Travesties @ Apollo Theatre
Cast Includes Tom Hollander, Freddie Fox and Clare Foster
Running Time: 2 hours 25 mins, inc. interval
Tom Stoppard has not given the audience an easy ride with Travesties. It is definitely not a show where you can sit back and let it wash over you – it demands attention, debating artistic movements within an endlessly shifting world. This transfer from the ever-popular Menier (it sold out there in record time) is fast paced and does not let up.
Focussing on Tom Hollander’s unreliable narrator Henry Carr, the piece is a winding, intricate one – scenes are replayed with differing focusses, meaning and characters at points as Carr tries to recount what happened in Zurich in 1917. This also intertwines with a performance of The Importance of Being Earnest with c*haracters meshing with their Wilde counterparts in the play’s world, meaning and established fact becomes increasingly more difficult to differentiate from fiction.
The play focusses on a lot of high end concepts and also several historical events which means that if you aren’t familiar with the historical period then it may become a struggle. Dada, James Joyce, Lenin and the causes of the First World War are all touched upon several times, sometimes at speed, which makes it a very intellectual and rather less emotional evening.
The cast are good – there is much to be enjoyed just in the performances, even if the plot goes over your head. Hollander is fantastic as Carr, both in his doddering senility at the end of his life and hapless ineptitude earlier on. Freddie Fox matches him well as Tristan Tzara, and their interplay is one of the highlights of the evening. Also of note is the recently Olivier nominated Clare Foster as Cecily, a nomination that is much deserved – she is delightful, in particular when playing off Amy Morgan as Gwendoline.
Summary: An intellectual and clever play that requires the audience’s full attention. A welcome revival with a strong company. ****