Thursday, January 24, 2008

Stoppard's Rock N Roll is Fantastic

I had the privilege of going to see Tom Stoppard's new play Rock 'n' Roll on Broadway last week and it was fantastic. I have been a Tom Stoppard fan since I saw Jumpers (in London with the original cast in 1972) and then studied Rosencrantz & Guidenstern Are Dead, so when his plays come anywhere nearby (even if it's London) I always try to go.

Well Rock 'n' Roll is up there as one of his best. As the official web site says:
This extraordinary theatrical event, from four-time Tony Award® winner Tom Stoppard (The Coast of Utopia), is now on Broadway following a record-breaking run in London's West End. It's August 1968, and Russian tanks are rolling in to Prague... Jan, the Czech student, lives for rock music, Max, the English professor, lives for Communism, and Esme, the flower child, is high. By 1990, the tanks are rolling out, the Stones are rolling in and idealism has hit the wall. Stoppard's sweeping and passionate play spans two countries, three generations and 22 turbulent years, at the end of which, love remains — and so does rock 'n' roll.

The professor, played by the powerful Brian Cox, is one of the last English communists and sticks with his dogma long after communism's day in the UK has past. His student, played brilliantly by Rufus Sewell, goes back to Prague to try to help his country and is persecuted. The play is, being Stoppard, clever, heartbreaking, hopeful and very funny, all at the same time.

But what I found delightful was the way he uses rock and roll to punctuate the story, and uses Jan's records as an allegory for what Jan is going through in his life. Jan's experience is thought provoking, very sad and painful, and yet ultimately so hopeful.

To cap my evening off, Bruce Springsteen was seated in front of us (I went with a friend), with his wife. Cool. And yes, I was.

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