Tom Stoppard’s 1974 play “Travesties,” which opened Tuesday at Roundabout’s American Airlines Theatre in a spirited, quick-paced revival, is a showcase for modern theater’s ultimate teacher’s pet.
Stoppard built his reputation for erudite riffs on classic material with early shows like “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” which thrust two minor characters from “Hamlet” to center stage. In “Travesties,” he takes the structure and characters of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” and adds often loopy layers of learned complication.
He centers his play on a real man named Henry Carr (Tom Hollander) who is a bit of a historical footnote: a British consular officer in 1917 Zurich who once sued James Joyce over a pair of trousers he had to buy for an amateur production of “Earnest.”
Under Patrick Marber’s masterful direction, “Travesties” never lets the mayhem swirl completely out of control. At the center of the madness is a bravura performance by Hollander, perhaps best known for screen roles as sidekicks who are either goofy (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) or vaguely sinister (“The Night Manager”).
Read the rest of my review for TheWrap here.