It's time for my review of Leopoldstadt.
Vienna in 1900 was the most vibrant city in Europe, humming with artistic and intellectual excitement and a genius for enjoying life. A tenth of the population were Jews. A generation earlier they had been granted full civil rights by the Emperor, Franz Josef. Consequently, hundreds of thousands had fled from the Pale and the pogroms in the East and many found sanctuary in the crowded tenements of the old Jewish quarter, Leopoldstadt. It was not to last. Half a century later, this family, like millions of others, had rediscovered what it means to be Jewish in the first half of the 20th century.
Leopoldstadt is an extremely moving piece of theatre, covering a number of extremely important topics such as The Holocaust and antisemitism. The play spans over 60 years, and provides an accurate depiction of what life was like for people of the Jewish faith in the years leading up to, and after, the Second World War whilst living in Austria. It is quite a powerful piece of writing, and certainly supplies the audience with food for thought. The different subject matters were well explored, and their depiction felt both genuine and nuanced. As well as the overarching themes of the play, Stoppard also explores concept of identity as well, and how people in society often have a tendency to be ashamed of, or deny, their heritage. Such recurring themes were intriguing, and benefitted from strong dialogue. The ending of Leopoldstadt, which explicitly deals with the casualties of the Holocaust, was particularly impactful, and makes for a very strong closure. The ending is, arguably, the highlight of the show and was really quite striking. It is undeniably heartbreaking, but also highly thought-provoking. My only criticism of Stoppard's writing in Leopoldstadt is that it was, at times, extraordinarily confusing. The storyline is arguably extremely complicated, with a vast amount of different characters and a number of overlapping storylines. As a consequence of this, it was sometimes hard to follow every single intricacy of the story.
The cast of Leopoldstadt consists of 41 performers, including both adults and children, which may very well be one of the largest theatrical casts that I have ever seen. All of the cast members were absolutely outstanding, and there were a number of superlative performances. There was not one weak link among the cast, and each and every one of them were truly excellent. A special mention must be awarded to Adrian Scarborough however, who portraying the character of Hermann Scarborough gave a particularly moving performance, and was outstanding.
The scenic design of Leopoldstadt, by Richard Hudson, was excellent. It served the play really well and felt very true to life. Hudon's design was extremely detailed, and at times it almost felt as if it were a painting that had come to life.
Now for my final verdict on Leopoldsadt. I give Leopoldstadt...
Whilst somewhat confusing at times, Leopoldsadt is an undeniably an intriguing piece of writing. In addition to that, it also has a remarkable cast and an outstanding set design.
Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got slower rating? If so comment below.
Thanks for reading!
-The Basic Theatre Reviewer