Having sold out its run at The Menier Chocolate Factory, Tom Stoppards Travesties, along with cast, has transferred to the West End’s Apollo Theatre. Directed by Patrick Marber, this revival has been tweaked slightly from the original production, but doesn’t lose any of the charm that made it a hit when it was first shown in London in 1974.
Like much of Stoppard’s work, with Travesties it can be quite difficult to grasp what is actually going on straight off. This might be off-putting to anyone unfamiliar with his work, but if you are able to get to grips with the plot you’re in for a treat. The play revolves around Henry Carr, assigned to the Consulate Office in Zurich in 1917, now an elderly man struggling with his memory, he looks back at that time of his life through foggy lenses, not quite sure what really happened or if his memory is simply playing tricks on him.
Indeed, Henry Carr was a real-life individual, who was stationed in Zurich around the time that James Joyce, Lenin and Tristan Tzara were also in residence. Although the timings couldn’t match up exactly, the use of the failing memory allows a storyline, that involves them all, to be created. A nice little side line to the plot is the incorporation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, with Henry Carrs casting in the production used to blend reality and fiction.
Tom Hollander is a fantastic Henry Carr, in his opening monologue he reminded me of Kenneth Williams on an episode of ‘Just a Minute’, rambling at pace and performing vocal acrobatics. Yet, when he slipped back to his younger self it almost felt like a totally different actor had walked on from the wings.
Freddie Fox is equally as wonderful in the role of Tristan Tzara, a supremely talented actor, Fox is able to bring incredible depth to the character he plays, whether it’s the Romanian accent or his precise movements, he seems to commandeer the entire stage.
The set is nicely laid out, papers strewn everywhere, creating chaos in an otherwise orderly world, and the staging works particularly well. A strong supporting cast brings Stoppard’s words to life through speaking, poetry and, even song.
This is a fine example of a revival, Travesties won’t be to everyone’s taste and those unfamiliar with the piece before sitting down in the auditorium may feel out of the loop, but overall the double act of Hollander and Fox, supported by an able cast, make this a funny and touching step back in time.r_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]