Play by Tom Stoppard. Henry Carr, a British consular official, agrees to play Algernon in an amateur production of The Importance of Being Earnest in Zurich, during the war. Little does he imagine that he will help found the Dada movement, influence the writings of Ulysses, or be responsible for the emergence of Lenin in the Russian Revolution...
Travesties - Original Production
Previewed 30 May 1974, Opened 10 June 1974, Closed 17 August 1974 (in repertory) at the Aldwych Theatre
Previewed 27 May 1975, Opened 29 May 1975, Closed 12 July 1975 (in repertory) at the Aldwych Theatre
Previewed 11 August 1975, Opened 13 August 1975, Closed 11 October 1975 at the Noel Coward Theatre
Following two acclaimed season in repertory at the Royal Shakespeare Company's Aldwych Theatre (which was then the RSC's resident London theatre base), the production transferred for a straight run at the Noel Coward Theatre (then named the Albery Theatre). Directed by Peter Wood with designs by Carl Toms, lighting by Robert Ornbo and music by Grant Hossack,
The original 1974 cast featured John Wood as 'Henry Carr', John Hurt as 'Tristan Tzara', Maria Aitken as 'Gwendolen Carr', Frank Windsor as 'Lenin', Tom Bell as 'James Joyce', John Bott as 'Bennett', Barbara Leigh-Hunt as 'Nadya' and Beth Morris as 'Cecily Carruthers'.
The cast for the 1975 second season at the Aldwych Theatre featured John Wood as 'Henry Carr', Robert Powell as 'Tristan Tzara', Harry Towb as 'Lenin', John Quentin as 'James Joyce', Meg Wynn Owen as 'Gwendolen Carr', John Bott as 'Bennett', Frances Cuka as 'Nadya' and Beth Morris as 'Cecily Carruthers'.
The cast for the 1975 Noel Coward Theatre run featured John Wood as 'Henry Carr', Tim Curry as 'Tristan Tzara', Harry Towb as 'Lenin', James Booth as 'James Joyce', Meg Wynn Owen as 'Gwendolen Carr', John Bott as 'Bennett', Frances Cuka as 'Nadya' and Beth Morris as 'Cecily Carruthers' - following this run in the West End, the entire production and cast then transferred to New York's Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre (previewed from 27 October 1975, opened on 30 October 1975 and closed on 13 March 1976).
Travesties - 1st West End Revival
Previewed 9 September 1993, Opened 16 September 1993, Closed 24 February 1994 (in repertory) at the Barbican Theatre
Opened 24 March 1994, Closed 4 June 1994 at the Savoy Theatre
Following an acclaimed run in repertory at the Royal Shakespeare Company's Barbican Theatre (which was then the RSC's resident London theatre base), this production transferred for a straight run at the Savoy Theatre. The cast featured Antony Sher as 'Henry Carr' with David Westhead as 'Tristan Tzara', Geoffrey Freshwater as 'Lenin', Lloyd Hutchinson as 'James Joyce', Rebecca Saire as 'Gwendolen Carr', Trevor Martin as 'Bennett', Darlene Johnson as 'Nadya' and Amanda Harris as 'Cecily Carruthers'. Directed by Adrian Noble with designs by Richard Hudson, lighting by Jennifer Tipton and music by Guy Woolfenden.
Travesties - 2nd West End Revival
Previewed 22 September 2016, Opened 4 October 2016, Closed 19 November 2016 at the Menier Chocolate Factory
Previewed 3 February 2017, Opened 15 February 2017, Closes 29 April 2017 at the Apollo Theatre
A major revival of Tom Stoppard's Travesties in London starring Tom Hollander and Freddie Fox and directed by Patrick Marber.
The cast for this production features Tom Hollander as 'Henry Carr' with Freddie Fox as 'Tristan Tzara', Forbes Masson as 'Lenin', Peter McDonald as 'James Joyce', Amy Morgan as 'Gwendolen Carr', Tim Wallers as 'Bennett', Sarah Quist as 'Nadya' and Clare Foster as 'Cecily Carruthers'.Directed by Patrick Marber with designs by Tim Hatley, lighting by Neil Austin and sound by Adam Cork.
This production transfers into the West End following an acclaimed sold-run at the Menier Chocolate Factory in South-East London from 22 September to 19 November 2016. Patrick Marber's London directing credits include Dennis Potter's Blue Remembered Hills at the National Theatre in 1996 and Harold Pinter's The Caretaker at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2000.
When this revival opened at the West End's Apollo Theatre, Claire Allfree in the Daily Telegraph highlighted how "Patrick Marber's finely calibrated revival gives a champagne effervescence to the densely plotted exchanges on Marxism, capitalism and the like, while the performances throughout are blissful. Freddie Fox blends exuberance and precision as the flamboyant Tzara, while Clare Foster is very funny as the hearty, frisky Cecily. And Tom Hollander finds an aching sadness in Carr - a fantasist prone to seeing his life as a three-act drama in which he always has the starring role." Fiona Mountford in The London Evening Standard said: "Here’s a show to put some much-needed snap, crackle and pop into the West End... this transfer of the sell-out Menier Chocolate Factory production of Tom Stoppard’s 1974 comedy is an effervescent delight, headlined by a performance to cherish from a never-been-better Tom Hollander... this is British theatre operating at the very top of its game." Dominic Maxwell in the Times commented that just "one wrong move and this could be irksome. But no, Patrick Marber plays a blinder here and this beautifully acted comical-intellectual collage keeps delivering." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times hailed it as being an "effervescent, intellectually brilliant and stylistically dazzling play," adding that "Patrick Marber also finds the shadows and depths in the piece." Patrick Marmion in the Daily Mail praised "this brilliantly frivolous production... in Patrick Marber’s dazzling revival. Tom Stoppard’s play is a two-and-a-half-hour virtuoso turn, and Marber’s production, which stands on the virtuoso turns of his actors, does not disappoint... on Tim Hatley’s ingenious set its flamboyant theatricality is given full throttle. This is tomfoolery with panache."
When this production was seen at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark in 2016, Henry Hitchinns in the London Evening Standard highlighted that, "directed by Patrick Marber with a finely tuned sense of its elegance and intelligence, it sparkles... and Tom Hollander is a delight." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail said that "this production is a cracker... it rattles along and has moments of theatrical brilliance." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times commented how "Patrick Marber's production allows the clever humour the upper hand... At the centre of it all is Tom Hollander's Carr, a far more masterly performance than he lets on as he alternates between doddering and an obsession with the tailoring of trousers," concluding that "it's the perfect Stoppardian mix of the intellectually heavy and the soufflé-light." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph thought that "a West End transfer must be on the cards - anything less would be a travesty." Ann Treneman in the Times described it as being "a dazzling play-on-words sort of play... This production, directed by Patrick Marber, is a playful joy, full of life, song, limericks and even (shimmy shimmy) a hint of burlesque... This is a complicated play to get right but Marber has done exactly that. He makes it look easy, as does Tom Hollander." Neil Norman in the Daily Express noted how "as Carr, Tom Hollander delivers one of the funniest and most nuanced performances of his career and heads a cast that is virtually flawless," adding that "Patrick Marber’s direction makes the torrential wordplay and the literary and political allusions zing... Travesties is drop-dead brilliant. Don’t miss it."
"First things first: you need to get hold of a ticket for this show. Unfortunately, the Menier's brilliant revival of this Tom Stoppard classic from 1974 is already sold out. So you need to march on Southwark immediately, placards aloft, and demand a West End transfer. Nothing less will do. Stoppard's play is dazzlingly, mind-bogglingly clever. His plays always are, of course, but Travesties is arguably in a league of its own... The plot centres on a rather fussy little comedy Englishman called Henry Carr (Tom Hollander), a staunch defender of the established order. After fighting in the trenches of the First World War, he is invalided out to work in the consulate in Zurich... Travesties is no straight narrative, though. Instead, it's Henry Carr's hazy and rambling recollections when he is an old, old man in a dressing gown... Hollander is quite superb, a master of comedy and pathos... Patrick Marber directs faultlessly, and with an evidently deep love of the play." The Sunday Times
"The first few moments of Tom Stoppard's 1974 play are as nonsensical as Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky - but similarly arresting to anyone beguiled by words and a tease. Which is the key to Patrick Marber's exhilarating revival of this exuberant, extraordinary jeu d'esprit, which celebrates three artistic revolutionaries (that includes Stoppard himself) and a political one. We appear to be inside the erratic and unreliable mind of doddery old Henry Carr, some-time British consul (or so he says). As he sheds his drab dressing gown and becomes a young blade again, he recalls meeting the intellectual giants Tzara, Joyce and Lenin, who all happened to be in Zurich in 1917... Hollander, beloved in Rev and The Night Manager, is on top of one of the most slippery - and brilliantly bonkers - streams of consciousness ever written but hasn't yet reached that stage of lipsmacking, ratatatat relish. When he does, he too will dazzle." The Mail on Sunday
"In Tom Stoppard's 1974 play, Tom Hollander's Henry Carr - whose real-life namesake was stationed in Zurich during World War I - is worth very little compared with the titans of 20th century art and politics with whom he hobnobs, and spies upon. What's the play about? I doubt even Carr knows that. For him it's enough that, with a little adjustment to the facts, he can claim his place in history alongside the anti-art artist Tristan Tzara just as he founds the Dadaist movement; Lenin, just as he is fomenting revolution; and James Joyce who, while writing his monumental Ulysses finds time to cast Carr in a production of The Importance Of Being Earnest, which he apparently really did. All are at the height of their powers here. But the real point is, so is Stoppard who uses Zurich - brimful as it was in 1917 with spies, artists and revolutionaries - like the Large Hadron Collider of today's Switzerland. Only instead of atoms and particles he's smashing together arguments and ideas that shaped much of the last century. It's dazzling if, at times, impenetrable stuff whose plot hijacks Wilde's own from Importance. Just one flaw: Patrick Marber's nimble production doesn't quite move the emotions as much as it stimulates the mind." The London Metro
Travesties in London at the Apollo Theatre previewed from 3 February 2017, opened on 15 February 2017 and closed on 29 April 2017