Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tom Stoppard's "Rock and Roll"

Saturday matinee. GREAT seats in the orchestra, seats reserved for people with disabilities. The rocker Syd Barrett (of progressive rock band Pink Floyd), the god Pan fluting from the wall to a young girl gazing dreamily at him; the diehard professor, Max Morrow, who remains in the British Communist party after 1956 Hungary; his protege, Jan, a Polish supporter of Dubcek's "socialism with a human face," who returns to Poland after the Soviet invasion of 1968; Max's wife, Eleanor, who teaches Sappho, who is dying of cancer; Ferdinand, the Havel figure, who is always getting others to sign petitions to the Czech government; the Plastic People of the Universe, the rock band persecuted by the Czech authorities, and so becomes a celebrated symbol of resistance when all they want is to be left alone to play their music. The philosophical exchanges are fast, furious and razor-sharp. Many of the characters, especially Eleanor, were moving. But the ending was too neat when Esme goes off with Jan back to Czechoslovakia since nothing earlier in the play suggests any romantic feelings between them, or what one sees in the other.

Director: Trevor Nunn
Set Designer: Robert Jones
Costume Designer: Emma Ryott
Lighting Designer: Howard Harrison

Max: Brian Cox
Eleanor/older Esme: Sinead Cusack
Jan: Rufus Sewell
Lenka: Nicole Ansari
Younger Esme/Alice: Alice Eve
Ferdinand: Stephen Kunken

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