Tom Stoppard’s latest (and perhaps last) play, Leopoldstadt, opened in a lavish production featuring a huge cast and stunning design. Less esoteric than many of Stoppard’s previous shows, many critics still found themselves lost in the epic scope of the story and the sheer number of characters. Nonetheless, critics found the play moving; carried away by the gorgeous production, smartly directed by Patrick Marber and executed by a talented cast.
The New York Times Review of Leopoldstadt
As Stoppard flips through this Rolodex of Viennese machers, you may recognize his trademark bravura: tossing you into the deep end of his imagination, trusting that you’ll eventually surface. In this case, it’s a very deep end: By my count, 31 characters appear in “Leopoldstadt,” 24 of them members of the extended Merz-Jakobovicz clan. … But just when you fear you know too little, you realize you actually know too much. In “Leopoldstadt,” Stoppard takes dramatic irony — the audience’s grasp of what the characters cannot see — to such an extreme that it becomes the subject itself. … That we remain in suspense anyway is partly the effect of Stoppard’s kaleidoscopic technique, seducing us with manifold pleasures like that boisterous Christmas party in 1899, a polyphonic Passover in 1900, a farcical circumcision in 1924. … But “Leopoldstadt” is not quite as tightly constructed as “Arcadia,” say, or “Jumpers” or “Travesties”; it has too many themes to wrangle, and some dense historical exposition is unconvincingly disguised as small talk. As such, the play leans more than usual on a handsome, foreboding, smartly calibrated production.
amNY Review of Leopoldstadt
As is often the case with Tom Stoppard, it will take some time to fully absorb “Leopoldstadt” … “Leopoldstadt” truly is epic-sized, with a 38-member cast (including many children), a two-hour and 20-minute running time without an intermission, and discussions and debates on advanced topics such as number theory, Zionism, and Freud. … That being said, “Leopoldstadt” is a relatively accessible, straightforward, and emotional work – at least when compared to other cerebral works by Stoppard. … I can think of many people who would probably walk out of other Stoppard plays but who would find “Leopoldstadt” to be very moving. … “Leopoldstadt” is not without its issues. Much of it is expository, slow, and muddled (including a farcical circumcision sequence that somehow got included). It is very challenging to remember who each of the less prominent characters is without consulting a character list or family tree. Still, it is a powerful work which is receiving a lavish production under the meticulous direction of Patrick Marber.
Deadline Review of Leopoldstadt
The great playwright Tom Stoppard and his simpatico director Patrick Marber make a lasting gift of remembrance in the brilliant, gorgeous and devastating new play Leopoldstadt, opening tonight at Broadway’s Longacre Theatre. … Any summary of scenes and timeline descriptions of Leopoldstadt can’t begin to convey the richness of Stoppard’s work, and this play, like his other masterworks Arcadia and The Coast of Utopia, is full of digressions and discussions and dialogue as funny as it is poignant. … An excellent cast of 38 – 38! – delivers each character with enough individual personality to guide us along the way, even if we’re not always immediately cognizant of how one person might be related to another.
New York Post Review of Leopoldstadt
The pages of Stoppard’s drama, loosely inspired by the British playwright’s own family, slowly flip like a hefty fading photo album, too, and while that strikes an appropriate tone it also creates a theatrical problem. When we arrive at the shattering ending scene — a paralyzing moment of repressed memory and confronting the past — we’ve forgotten half of the people we met along the way. Characters do not develop in “Leopoldstadt” so much as make cameo appearances or, if we do see them again, apply a bit of old-age makeup and adjust their voices to be gravelly. They are not compellingly human. There is simply too much sprawl here for a just-over-two-hour runtime to contain, and there are so many lofty aims that don’t cohesively gel. … Director Patrick Marber’s production on Richard Hudson’s set is grand and handsome — a Christmas party (yes, you read right) could almost be swapped for the start of “The Nutcracker.” The acting, often a cacophony of twenty people talking is quick succession, is all over the map. … You will neither regret seeing “Leopoldstadt” nor be wholly thrilled by the experience.