Travesties at the Apollo theatre is a revival of Tom Stoppard’s 1974 Tony Award-winning play about an amnesiac old gentleman, Henry Carr, who reminisces about his time in Zurich in 1917 during World War I. He gets his memories mixed up with the plot of The Importance of Being Earnest, a production of which he appeared in during his younger years. Travesties is nothing if not Stoppardian – it contains elitist humour, a ton of references to other works, and wordplay too clever for its own good. Stoppard has thrown the First World War, Dadaism, Lenin, James Joyce, vaudeville, limericks and a ton of Oscar Wilde together into one gloriously self-satisfied play.
I saw the understudy run – the parts of Henry Carr, James Joyce, Bennett and Cecily were played by understudies. First and foremost, I must say that I never would have guessed that this was the first time they were all doing this together – the production flowed pretty much seamlessly and all the understudies were very good. William Alexander Findley as Henry Carr was spot-on – his opening monologue, which could easily have been long and tedious in another actor’s hands, was perfectly and engagingly delivered. He embodied both Bertie Wooster-like young Henry and fumbling, endearingly old-fashioned old Henry perfectly.
The audience seemed to enjoy it immensely – the show was rife with laugh-out-loud moments that everyone embraced (perhaps more so because most of the audience seemed to know at least one cast member). The actors’ enjoyment of what they were doing was palpable, and there was a deserved standing ovation for them at the end.
Travesties is playing at the Apollo Theatre until April 29th. For more information and tickets, click here.