The Arts

Canadian Stage Company – Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘N’ Roll

Canadian Stage Company – Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘N’ Roll featured image

reviewed by Paula Citron
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Rock ‘N’ Roll
Canadian Stage Company
Written by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Donna Feore
Starring Kenneth Welsh, Fiona Reid, Shaun Smyth with Donald Carrier, Sascha Cole, Belinda Cornish, Jacklyn Francis, John Kirkpatrick, Patrick Kwok-Choon, Cyrus Lane and Alex Paxton-Beesley
At the Bluma Appel Theatre until Oct. 24

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The 2006 hit play Rock ‘N’ Roll by Tom Stoppard uses rock music as a form of dissent in pre-glasnost Czechoslovakia. It begins with the Prague Spring of 1968, and moves through the decades to the fall of the iron curtain, ending with the Rolling Stones Prague concert in 1990. In between, there is Stoppard’s trademark dizzying collision of ideas about idealism versus reality.

Kenneth Welsh is Max, an unrepentant Communist Cambridge professor. Shaun Smyth is Jan, Max’s Czech student who lives through the oppression that followed the hope of 1968. The play contains spirited discussions from all sides of the argument punctuated by carefully chosen Rock songs that act like a Greek chorus.

Director Donna Feore has tried to keep a lid on things, but is cramped by the sets. Also, diction gets lost in passion and accents. Nonetheless, Rock ‘N’ Roll is a heady feast for the mind.

Rock ‘N’ Roll continues at the Bluma Appel Theatre until Oct. 24.

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