James Joyce, Tristan Tzara and Vladimir Lenin all meet in a Swiss library in this spectacular revival of Tom Stoppard’s intellectual kaleidoscope comedy, which transfers from London to the American Airlines Theatre. Directed by Patrick Marber and starring Tom Hollander.
Set in Zürich, Switzerland during the first World War, Travesties is told through the somewhat distorted memory of English civil servant Henry Carr (Tom Hollander) as he reminisces about his interactions with dadaist artist Tristan Tzara (Seth Numrich), Irish novelist James Joyce (Peter McDonald) and Russian revolutionary Lenin (Dan Butler). These encounters are affected and flavoured by a production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest that Carr was starring in at the time.
If it sounds zany, that’s only because it is; however, Tom Stoppard’s reputation for intellectual comedies is justified in this highly literate; using clever word-play and many cultural and historical references to present ideas on politics, art, society and love.
Tom Hollander (co-creator and star of BBC sitcom Rev.) was a hit with London critics in the role of Henry, with his performance earning him an Olivier Award nomination. Seth Numrich (Warhorse, Golden Boy) is flamboyant and eloquent as Tzara, while Dan Butler (Warhol/Capote) is a fiery and bombastic Lenin.
Patrick Marber (writer and director of Closer) brings a frenetic pace to Travesties that ensures it doesn’t become bogged down in its own intellectualism. The witty dialogue and farcical situations zip along in order to keep the laughs coming.