Runtime: 2h 20m
Nestled within the Russian doll construction of Tom Stoppard’s latest, and possibly final play, Leopoldstadt, is Leo, the son and grandson of a Viennese Jewish family. A serious, weighty and enjoyable family saga, it charts the family’s history from turn of the century Vienna to 1955. Leo was born Leo Rosenbaum in Vienna but takes his English stepfather’s name-- just as Stoppard did when his widowed mother married Major Kenneth Stoppard in India in 1945-- and becomes Leo Chamberlain, a callow young English comic writer of 25 who knows little about his past. Leo could perhaps be seen as a rueful portrait of the artist as a young man. Stoppard’s best plays are always those where he risks revealing himself and this story of Jewish identity and heritage is one of his best and deserves to be welcomed back into the West End.
The Olivier Award-winning new 'masterwork' (Evening Standard) by Tom Stoppard opened to overwhelming critical acclaim in early 2020, playing seven weeks of sold-out performances, before being temporarily shut down. Since then, the grand Viennese apartment on Wyndham's stage has waited for a great reawakening, as audiences eagerly anticipate the return of Leopoldstadt. Now, Stoppard’s ‘unforgettable play from the heart’ (The Telegraph) re-opens in the West End for 12 weeks only! At the beginning of the 20th Century, Leopoldstadt was the old, crowded Jewish quarter of Vienna. But Hermann Merz, a manufacturer and baptised Jew married to Catholic Gretl, has moved up in the world. Gathered in the Merz apartment in a fashionable part of the city, Hermann's extended family are at the heart of Tom Stoppard's epic yet intimate drama. By the time we have taken leave of them, Austria has passed through the convulsions of war, revolution, impoverishment, annexation by Nazi Germany and - for Austrian Jews - the Holocaust in which 65,000 of them were murdered. It is for the survivors to pass on a story which hasn't ended yet. A 'masterpiece' (Independent) directed by Patrick Marber, Leopoldstadt is Tom Stoppard's most humane and heart-breaking play. Don't miss it. Age recommendation: 12+