Rock'n'Roll

Previewed 3 June 2006, Opened 14 June 2006, Closed 15 July 2006 at the Royal Court Theatre
Transferred 22 July 2006, Closed 25 February 2007 at the Duke of York's Theatre

Tom Stoppard's new play Rock'n'Roll in London directed by Trevor Nunn

Tom Stoppard's Rock'n'Roll spans the recent history of Czechoslovakia between the Prague Spring in 1968 and the Velvet Revolution in 1990, but from the double perspective of Prague, where a rock and roll band came to symbolize resistance to the regime, and the British left, represented by a Communist philosopher at Cambridge.

The cast from Saturday 3 June 2006 to Sunday 5 November 2006, at the Royal Court Theatre and the West End's Duke of York's Theatre featured Brian Cox as 'Max' (up to Sunday 24 September 2006), David Calder as 'Max' (from Tuesday 26 September 2006), Rufus Sewell as 'Jan', Sinead Cusack as 'Eleanor'/'older Esma', Nicole Ansari as 'Lenka', Louise Bangay as 'Candida', Anthony Calf as 'Interrogator'/'Nigel', Martin Chamberlain as 'Milan'/'Policeman'/'Jaroslav', Miranda Colchester as 'Gillian'/'Magda'/'Deirdre', Alice Eve as 'younger Esme'/'Alice', Edward Hogg as 'Piper'/'Policeman'/'Stephen', and Peter Sullivan as 'Ferndinand'.

Tuesday 7 November 2006 to Sunday 12 November 2006, no performances due to cast change.

The cast from Tuesday 14 November 2006 to Sunday 25 February 2007 featured David Calder as 'Max', Dominic West as 'Jan', Emma Fielding as 'Eleanor/'older Esme', Dolya Gavanski as Lenka', Nicola Bryant as 'Candida', Mark Lingwood as 'Interrogator'/'Nigel', Martin Chamberlain as 'Milan'/'Policeman'/'Jaroslav', Sarah Pearman as 'Gillian'/'Magda'/'Deirdre', Fiona Button as 'younger Esme'/'Alice', Jason Courtis as 'Piper'/'Policeman', Ben Addis as 'Stephen', and Peter Sullivan as 'Ferndinand'

This production played a Tuesday to Sunday performance schedule, with a Sunday afternoon matinee performance instead of a Monday evening performance.

Directed by Trevor Nunn with set designs by Robert Jones, costumes by Emma Ryott, lighting by Howard Harrison, and sound by Ian Dickinson.

David Calder's London theatre credits include 'Victor Franz' in David Thacker's revival of Arthur Miller's The Price at the Young Vic Theatre in 1990; and 'Cassio' in John Barton's revival of William Shakespeare's Othello, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Aldwych Theatre in 1973.

Emma Fielding's London stage credits include 'Lady Macbeth' in John Caird's revival of William Shakespeare's Macbeth at the Almeida Theatre in 2005; and 'Sibyl Chase' in Howard Davies' revival of Noel Coward's Private Lives at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2001.

Tom Stoppard's West End plays include Arcadia, Indian Ink, Jumpers, The Real Thing, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and Travesties.

"Nobody could ever accuse Tom Stoppard of being a one-track playwright. But even by his standards, Rock'n'Roll is an extraordinarily ambitious mix of political debate and philosophic romance which cuts between Prague and Cambridge and is set to the soundtrack of our recent lives, from Bob Dylan through the Rolling Stones to Guns'n'Roses... Jan is perhaps Stoppard himself had the playwright ever returned to the country he left as a very small child... It's a play about the collapse of communism and the rebirth of capitalism, about what makes people fall in love and even about what makes them - heart or soul, mind or memory. It's about now people react to regimes; the nature of rebellion and the discovery that in the end no system can survive without popular belief and support. Trevor Nunn's production draws on some very strong performances from a tremendous cast." The Daily Express

"Tom Stoppard is such a dense writer - which is to say intelligent, his plays being thick with ideas - that it is hard to think through his arguments within minutes of his latest work's curtain call. Maybe that is the way this uplifting, tart new play wants it to be, for it is a prolonged kick against the intellectualism which so long supported communist oppression in Czechoslovakia. Ultra-brainy Mr Stoppard has written a great battle hymn supporting romanticists against the thieving priests of political doctrine... The visceral appeal of rock music helped to break communism's grip. Rock music propelled love and individualism deep into the breasts of Prague's dissidents. Rock's appeal was certainly not something that even entered the computations of the ridiculous Marxist dons in Cambridge and elsewhere who backed the communist ideal... Rock'n'Roll ends with a liberating elopement and the return of Prague to the free world. You leave it giddy with relief at the defeat of political theory." The Daily Mail

"The protagonist is Jan, a young academic sent to Britain to snoop for Czechoslovakia but too much of a maverick and too little the communist to please the spymasters. Back home he keeps his head down and indulges his passion, which is listening to his rock'n'roll records, but his avid support of a group, improbably called The Plastic People of the Universe, lands him in dead-end jobs and in prison as a 'parasite'... What's the point? That will keep real-life academics busy for years, but, for me, it's mainly to be found in rock'n'roll itself... We think that Czechoslovakia changed because of the efforts of Vaclav Havel and the likes of Jan's earnest friend, Peter Sullivan's Ferdy, and so it did. But let's not forget rock'n'roll, a demotic, apolitical form that infuriated the cops, inspirited the young and showed the chasm between leaders and led." The Times

Rock'n'Roll in London at the Duke of York's Theatre opened on 22 July 2006 and closed on 25 February 2007.