Monday, November 27, 2006

"Too much philosophy"

Michael Riedel via The Playgoer:

"Voyage," Tom Stoppard's new play about radical politics in pre-revolutionary Russia, is dense, dazzling, beautiful and demanding.

But it's not for everyone. Indeed, there are always a few bail-outs at intermission. Stoppard, who ducks out of Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater for a smoke after the first act, keeps an informal tally of the people leaving his play. Lately, he's started asking them why.

The dialogue goes something like this:

Stoppard: "Excuse me. Why are you leaving this play?"

Lincoln Center Theater subscriber (age, about 97): "Who are you?"

Stoppard: "I'm the playwright."

Subscriber (fidgeting with infrared hearing device): "We can't tell you!"

Stoppard: "Please. I really want to know. Are you leaving because it's boring?"

Subscriber (crinkling a cough-drop wrapper): "Well, yes."

Stoppard: "Why is it boring?"

Subscriber: "Too much philosophy!"

David Hare, who has a play of his own in previews - "The Vertical Hour," starring Julianne Moore - says he envies his friend Stoppard's "sang-froid."

"I don't have it myself," he adds. "I can't bear to listen to what people say about my plays. Not once have I ever heard a single person say anything nice. The very first comment I ever heard, at the first preview of my first play, was: 'I'm sorry, darling. That was my idea.' "

Prediction: "Voyage" will get terrific reviews. And audiences who devote their full attention to the play will be richly rewarded.

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