Leopoldstadt review, Wyndham’s Theatre: Tom Stoppard’s shiveringly sensual journey through the terrible 20th century is a masterpiece

Patrick Marber has cast the show with great flair – Adrian Scarborough has never been better than as Hermann Merz and Luke Thallon is stunningly talented as Fritz and Leo

Paul Taylor
Wednesday 12 February 2020 19:22 GMT
Adrian Scarborough as Hermann in ‘Leopoldstadt’
Adrian Scarborough as Hermann in ‘Leopoldstadt’


When asked where he picked up the ideas that animate his plays, Tom Stoppard once had the habit of saying “Harrods”. It was a self-deprecating tease that acknowledged how some folk used to think that their subject matter (linguistic philosophy in Jumpers, the political implications of art for art’s sake in Travesties) was all a bit of an intellectual pick’n’mix. Then came the emotional watershed of Arcadia (1993) and The Invention of Love, the 1997 play that is my personal favourite and that I thought was his masterpiece. Until now.

You could not pick up the inspiration that suffuses Leopoldstadt in Harrods – “not even for ready money”, to steal a gag from a comedy that Stoppard has pastiched several times, The Importance of Being Earnest. The new piece promptly establishes itself as magnificent at its first outing in a production by Patrick Marber.

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