Maybe it was the pending congressional elections, but in November Theatre Row was the scene of an onslaught of plays that resonated terribly with these troubled times: The York Shakespeare Company staged Macbeth and Richard II back-to-back—with the same cast—at the Clurman Theatre, while across the lobby at the Beckett, The Actors’ Company Theatre, under the direction of Jenn Thompson, put on an extraordinary performance of The Memorandum, a brilliant and neglected work by Václav Havel.

Havel, the crusading anti-Communist dissident who served as the final president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic, is a hero and a man of letters, a figure who brings to mind such fellow anti-communists as the once-obscure Polish playwright Karol Wojtyla and the Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn—which is to say, he is a man whose role in history overshadows his role as...


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