Leopoldstadt National Theatre

REVIEW ROUND-UP: Leopoldstadt at Wyndham’s Theatre

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We round up the reviews for Tom Stoppard’s latest play receiving its world premiere at the Wyndham’s Theatre.

The Stage: ★★★★ “With an ensemble of more than 30 actors having to age across decades (great credit to wigs and make-up for how natural they make the grey hairs and wrinkling faces look) there’s a lot to wrangle, but Marber does it with care and precision and, above all, respect for what the play is trying to say.”

The FT: ★★★★ “The very number of actors on the stage is significant: it creates a vivid, tangible sense of lives extinguished and makes the ending intensely moving. It lives with you long after the curtain has gone down.”

The Guardian: ★★★ “What is initially striking about Leopoldstadt is its lack of hallmarks such as the linguistic play and pirandellian tricks that have laced Stoppard’s body of work.”

Evening Standard: ★★★★ “There are no explicit modern parallels, but Stoppard makes acute points about the recurrence of ancient prejudices and the narrative of blame and betrayal. His questions about national or cultural identity are similarly pertinent.”

The New York Times: “More than anything he has written (including his rueful The Real Thing), Leopoldstadt feels like an act of personal reckoning for its creator — with who he is and what he comes from. It’s not difficult to see Leopoldstadt as one man’s passionate declaration of identity as a Jew.”

London Theatre.co.uk: ★★★★★ “I defy anyone not to be intensely moved by the play as it moves to its conclusion, and the painful and enduring legacy of the Holocaust (which I won’t spoil by revealing how it is shown here).”

The Spectator: “This play is a vast undertaking, artistically and commercially, and it won’t make much profit because the 40-strong company is exceptionally large. Revivals are unlikely to follow for the same reason. The queue will be enormous. Join it and be glad.”

Variety: “Despite the entire cast working to add personal characteristics, the more we see the arguments moving into historical focus over time — the play jump-cuts to successive generations — the more almost all of the people on stage become dangerously expository mouthpieces for ideas rather than fully-fledged characters. That makes it hard to follow who’s who, and harder still to connect on an individual basis.”

Time Out: ★★★★ “There are a lot of fine performances, particularly from Scarborough, who remains the story’s through-thread as Hermann, a man who never quite makes of his life what he hopes for, but nonetheless persists at it with a dogged determination. But the real star here is Stoppard, who has, perhaps for the last time, rallied his legions of adjectives and phalanxes of nouns and used them to tell a huge, vital story.”

The Telegraph: ★★★★ “That this is probably his swansong makes attendance near compulsory.”

The Times: ★★ “Tom Stoppard has never been afraid of taking on weighty themes, from the meaning of consciousness to the laws of physics. That, of course, is the reason his admirers are drawn to him, even if they may have only a vague idea of what all his aphorisms actually mean.”

Culture Whisper: ★★★★ “This is a play that forces us to confront our own complacency and contend with the fragility and threats to such values, by showing how prejudice and hate can build and breed over one generation.”

iNews: ★★★★ “Patrick Marber, the keen director, knits this cat’s cradle of a play into an elegant and elegiac whole that locates every baleful note of Stoppard’s likely swan song.”

The Independent: “Patrick Marber has cast the show with great flair – Adrian Scarborough has never been better than as Hermann Merz and Luke Thallon is stunningly talented as Fritz and Leo.”

The Daily Mail: ★★★ “For all its clunks and flaws, this, like all Stoppard’s plays, in the end comes across as a benign, enriching gift.”

The Upcoming: ★★★ “Patrick Marber’s solid direction successfully administers the cast of over twenty – an achievement nothing short of miraculous. Richard Hudson’s opulent set design invites viewers into a bourgeois home, complemented with delicate and resonant sound textures by Adam Cork.”

The Metro: ★★★ “In Patrick Marber’s sumptuous production, which maintains the compositional grandeur of an Old Master painting, a family tree would be handy to help keep track of the aunts, uncles and cousins belonging to Hermann (Gavin & Stacey star Adrian Scarborough) and Ludwig (Stoppard’s son Ed).”

British Theatre.com: ★★★★ “Whilst the play is not biographical, elements of Stoppard’s own Jewish heritage have been clearly woven into the tapestry of themes and events we witness, and although Stoppard makes no obvious allegorical connection to those events and modern society, a 2020 lens lurks in the shadows of Richard Hudson’s beautifully imposing set.”

London Theatre1: ★★★★ “The scale of the feeling and history is plenty provocative even if somehow emotionally distant. Stoppard plays a correct and theatrically brave note; one from which you will need to compose yourself afterwards.”

Leopoldstadt will play at the Wyndham’s Theatre until 13 June 2020.

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Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at LoveLDNLoveCul.
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Emma Clarendon on FacebookEmma Clarendon on InstagramEmma Clarendon on RssEmma Clarendon on Twitter
Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at LoveLDNLoveCul.

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