Review: Travesties, starring Tom Hollander

April 24, 2018

Tom Stoppard's clever, witty, fast-paced, and humorous play is one of the more intellectually stimulating things currently gracing a Broadway stage. Told through the unreliable memory of an older Henry Carr, played by Tom Hollander, the show shows us different outcomes to different scenarios, seeming to get funnier as they go along, despite the gravity of history that may be attached. 

 

Tom Hollander is wonderful as Carr, and carries the show in a very unassuming way, similar to the unassuming demeanor of his character when we first meet him. Often times, lead actors in shows carry the weight of the character on stage. While there is nothing wrong with that, Hollander appears to find himself set in whichever mindset Carr is in at the moment - whether it me a senile old man, or a younger man in Zurich in 1917. 

 

While the entire cast is phenomenal and play together wonderfully onstage, I must make note of Seth Numrich as Tristan Tzara. He completely dives into the character and is absolutely incredible. He deserves as many nominations as he can get for the part - as he is just that good!

 

One trait of the show is the fast dialogue. That, combined with time jumping element keep the audience on their toes, racing to keep up and pay attention. Loud bangs and bells also help if anyone may find themselves potentially dozing off. Performed in the style of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, which also is important to the plot of the show, I discovered that not only do Gwendolen (Scarlett Strallen) and Cecily (Sara Topham) from Travesties share characteristics with the girls of the same name from Wilde's play, but Tzara and Carr both seem to lead double lives, much like Jack and Algernon.

 

Tzara, Carr, Lenin (Dan Butler), and James Joyce (Peter McDonald) are all travesties of the real people they are based on, making the play even cleverer than you would have thought. The cast is completed with Opal Alladin as Nadya, Lenin's wife and Patrick Kerr as Bennet, Henry Carr's butler. The eight person cast is an incredible ensemble and it is amazing to witness what they can do. 

 

To understand Travesties you have to sit up, pay attention, and think. The show is pure genius and with the utilization of music, dance, and some tricks that make you wonder "how did they end up there?", Travesties is not to be missed. 

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