Street Scene: DF and CK review Leopoldstadt (for Parterre Box)

David Fox: If ever there was a fool’s errand, it’s reviewing Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt. Consider the subject matter alone: a history of Jewish Vienna at various points between 1899 and 1955. (1938—and very specifically, Kristallnacht—is central, in case you had any doubt about how grimly important this story is.) If that’s not enough, the now 85-year-old Stoppard has suggested that Leopoldstadt is likely to be his valedictory work. See what I mean about the double-bind we poor critics are placed in? So, it’s a relief to say that Stoppard’s ability to seamlessly orchestrate large narratives remains a marvel. Multiple generations of characters—embodied by a cast of 26 actors—come and go here with dazzling authorial virtuosity. Director Patrick Marber and the design team have framed it with the jaw-dropping beauty of an exhibit at Neue Galerie.

Cameron Kelsall: The production, now playing on Broadway after success in the West End, is a technical triumph, with special kudos to scenic designer Richard Hudson. I found the way that he traced the escalating precarity of the central family’s situation—from the opulence of Christmas 1899 to the impending terror of Kristallnacht—through the gradual reduction of physical grandeur in the same space as affecting as anything in Stoppard’s text. But the playwright and director also deserve praise for crafting an engrossing and, yes, occasionally moving exploration of citizenship and identity throughout history. But often, I found the piece as a whole exceedingly hollow…

Click here to read the full post at Parterre Box.

Categories: Criticism, New York, PARTERRE BOX, Theater

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