Any suggestion that Tom Stoppard is incapable of writing from the heart will not survive an encounter with Leopoldstadt (at the Longacre Theatre through March 12), his most emotionally gripping and perhaps most personal play. Now eighty-five, Stoppard has given us a magnificent career capstone while proving that he is even at this advanced age able to head in surprising new directions. Some of the old Stoppardian wordplay is present, as well as some banter about high-level mathematics, but the play’s immense emotional impact is in Stoppard’s consideration of what it means to be Jewish—the proud legacy, the unbearable sorrow. In a way, Stoppard (who inserts himself into the final scene of the play, all but undisguised) is castigating himself for not devoting much thought to the question until the latter stages of his life.

Born Tomáš...

 

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