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.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies