There are some theatrical experiences that stay with you forever.
Leopoldstadt, by Tom Stoppard, is presently playing on Broadway. Taking its name from Vienna‘s old Jewish quarter, the play follows an assimilated and upper-class Austrian Jewish family from the turn of the century until the mid-1950s. Some members of this particular family have married out or have converted to Catholicism for business and social opportunities.
Though it seems that the antisemitism of the past has died, it is simmering just under the surface. As time progresses and the family changes, the safety net slowly dissipates, revealing the dark underbelly that was only waiting for an opportunity to be released into the world.
Leopoldstadt is one of the best plays I have ever seen. If my own work is half as good as this script, I will jump for joy.
What astounds me is that there are 38 main characters across multiple decades and generations. In my own writing, one of the rules that I go by is to limit the number of people who exist within the worlds I am creating. Too many characters make it confusing for both the writer and the reader/audience. No one on that stage is an afterthought or hastily drawn.
Based on the revelations of Stoppard’s own family history that was hidden for decades, this story is universal, heartbreaking, joyous, and a reminder that the Holocaust is far from ancient history.
By the time we got to the final scene, the stage felt empty. It was as if the ghosts of those who were murdered filled up the space, begging the audience to never forget. My heart was pounding, and my mouth was open, but I could not speak. Without giving the specific details away, I will say that it is devastating and heartbreaking.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely. Run, don’t walk to see Leopoldstadt.
Leopoldstadt is playing until July 2. Check the website for tickets and showtimes.
You must be logged in to post a comment.