Search

Travesties, Apollo Theatre, review: ‘Tom Hollander is a haunted, self-important dandy’

PUBLISHED: 14:52 17 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:52 17 February 2017

Tom Hollander (Henry Carr) in Travesties. Picture: Johan Persson

Tom Hollander (Henry Carr) in Travesties. Picture: Johan Persson

JOHAN PERSSON

The triumph of Partick Marber’s production of Stoppard’s play is the way it honours Stoppard’s dazzling intellect while also going full throttle with the piece’s playful, sometimes bonkers, wit

After a hit run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Patrick Marber’s storming revival of Tom Stoppard’s 1974 play gets a welcome West End encore. The triumph of this production is the way it honours Stoppard’s dazzling intellect while also going full throttle with the piece’s playful, sometimes bonkers, wit.

Tom Hollander is Henry Carr, a senile British consular official (mis)remembering his time in Zurich during the First World War. This unreliable narrator allows Stoppard to tweak history, bringing together several pioneering figures who did indeed pop up in Switzerland around 1917: Lenin, plotting his return to revolutionary Russia; Dada founder Tristan Tzara; and James Joyce, in the midst of creating Ulysses.

The form of the play is stunningly refracted through its subjects. There’s a bravura pastiche of The Importance of Being Earnest, a production of which results in Carr taking Joyce to court, plus impassioned socialist debate, espionage hijinks, Joycean limericks, and scenes slashed and spliced together like Dadaist cut-up poetry.

Amongst this linguistic whirlwind, there are resonant ideas about the meaning ascribed to words like “patriotism” as justification for war, and the duty of artists when faced with social turmoil. If words become unmoored, a mysterious, transporting force, or is that a dangerous indulgence?

Marber’s energetic production, featuring superb musical skits and magic tricks (with an assist from Tim Hatley’s versatile paper-strewn set), is slickly delivered by a game cast.

Hollander treads a delicate line with his younger Carr, a self-important dandy haunted by his experience in the trenches, while Amy Morgan and Clare Foster provide the evening’s highlight with their fizzing passive-aggressive duet. Great support, too, from Freddie Fox’s flamboyant Tzara, Forbes Masson’s wild-eyed Lenin and Peter McDonald’s heartfelt Joyce. Sublime silliness with an all-too-serious core.

5/5 stars

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington Entertainment Stories

Yesterday, 16:00

Journalist and first time author Paula Cocozza talks to Zoe Paskett about embracing wildness in the city and praise from Hilary Mantel

Yesterday, 15:44

Ivo Van Hove’s stage adaptation of Visconti’s film misses the mark and opts for effects that are avant-garde for the sake of it, leaving characters undeveloped

Thu, 19:06

Tapas is the “in thing” nowadays it seems, with restaurants of any ethnicity jumping on the bandwagon with sharing plates galore.

But Camino is an old school tapas diner – the real Spanish McCoy.

Wed, 12:00

There are many pitfalls to dusting down old material and presenting it anew.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read entertainment

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now