Plucking his plot from a minor coincidence of history (the co-residence of novelist James Joyce, Dadaist Tristan Tzara and political revolutionary Lenin in Zurich, Switzerland, during 1917) Tom Stoppard has constructed a knotty high-and-low comedy of ideas, history, politics, aesthetics, and music hall burlesque that is glued together by one sticky individual named Henry Carr, one of the truly inspired comic creations of modern theatre. As we know from ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, JUMPERS and THE REAL INSPECTOR HOUND, Stoppard likes to steep his comedy in intellectual ideas. In TRAVESTIES he has overlapped a parody of Oscar Wilde's THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST with a lawsuit over a pair of pants, obscene limericks, Beethoven’s ”Appassionata” and Lenin's heavy prose style. TRAVESTIES is altogether a stunningly witty play that bombards the audience with a thousand laughs and nine hundred thoughts.
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