Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Un-Stoppard 

Wednesday, Sep 20 2006
Comments
In Tom Stoppard's Travesties, an unreliable narrator named Henry Carr sums up the themes of the play this way: "Firstly, you're either a revolutionary or you're not, and if you're not, you might as well be an artist as anything else. Secondly, if you can't be an artist, you might as well be a revolutionary." Art and politics may be the grand leitmotifs of the piece, but the weight of such ideas is somewhat blunted by the fact that this isn't serious commentary — it's a comedy of manners. Carr is similar to Stoppard's Rosencrantz (or Guildenstern, if you prefer), an insignificant sidekick type with a dodgy memory who, in this case, recounts meeting three intellectual heavyweights in Zurich, Switzerland, circa 1917: author James Joyce (in the midst of brooding over plans for Ulysses), dada poet Tristan Tzara (most notable for his cheekily titled poem "Proclamation Without Pretension"), and Bolshevik bellwether Vladimir Lenin. As Stoppard pilfers from Oscar Wilde, down to the addition of two lady characters named Cicely and Gwendolyn, the intricate fictions coalesce to point out the forces that beat the 20th century into submission — Marxism, modernism, and dadaism. Given the play's brouhaha about the roles of artists and politicians, some of the banter sounds suspect, which isn't altogether lost on Stoppard. As one of the characters quips, "It may be nonsense, but at least it’s clever nonsense."

Travesties opens tonight at 8 (and continues through Oct. 14) at the American Conservatory Theater (as the Geary Theater is rechristened tonight).
Sept. 14-Oct. 14

About The Author

Nirmala Nataraj

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Slideshows

  • Trixxie Carr Presents: Maneater at Oasis
    January 14, 2015 was the first night of Trixxie Carr Presents: Maneater at Oasis in San Francisco. Photos by Calibree Photography.
  • No Pants BART Ride 2015 - NSFW
    The No Pants BART Ride commenced on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. Participants rode without pants, and at the end of the ride they disembarked at The Mission to bar hop, eat burritos and take selfies. Photos by Richard Haick.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular