Travesties

Definition

Theater

  • A comedy about politics, art, and memory by Tom Stoppard,first performed in London by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1974.The production, directed by Peter Ward, opened at The Place beforetransferring to the Aldwych Theatre. Travesties consolidatedStoppard's reputation as a writer with an amazing flair for wittydialogue and intricate plot construction.

    The story is based on the memories of Henry Carr, a retireddiplomat who served as a British consulate official in Zürichduring World War I, when the city was also home to Lenin, James Joyce,and the Dadaist Tristan Tzara. Carr recalls playing Algy in an amateurproduction, organized by Joyce, of Oscar Wilde's The Importanceof Being Earnest. This allows Stoppard to set up a dazzling seriesof parallels between the action of Wilde's play and events in Zürich.Literary and other confusions abound, with Lenin's writings gettingmixed up with sections of Joyce's Ulysses. Carr becomes embroiledin a trivial legal battle with Joyce over production expenses andfails to prevent Lenin from leaving for Russia and a date with destiny.Like the title characters in Stoppard's earlier Rosencrantz andGuildenstern Are Dead, he remains unaware to the end of the significanceof the events taking place around him.

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