Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Laughing at the World

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Laughing at the World

Article excerpt

Byline: NICHOLAS DE JONGH

FIRST NIGHT

Jumpers

Lyttelton

IMAGINE a bedroom farce involving a sexy musical comedy actress, married to a philosophy professor, but prone to regular adultery with the university vice-chancellor. Visualise this scenario ingeniously linked to a murky who-dunnit with a professorial corpse and a troupe of athletes, all set within the framework of a satire on rival schools of 20th century philosophy.

Finally add in musical revue and acrobatics.

Envisage a situation where all these elements are integrated. You will then have some idea of the scope of Tom Stoppard's fantastic theatrical hybrid, an inventive, anarchic comedy of low human behaviour and high human striving that resists categorisation and premiered at the Lyttelton in 1972 .

Things are never what they used to be. And David Leveaux's new production strikes me as grimmer and more passionate though not quite as funny as the 1976 revival when Michael Hordern cut such a wildly humorous figure as George, the confused, derided professor of moral philosophy trying to put the world, his wife and his philosophy in order. Simon Russell Beale now takes on this pivotal role and artfully raises much laughter. He humanises the cuckolded George, making him a comic professor of pretensions and a valiant man struggling to assert his belief in God and goodness in a disordered world. The first scene plunges you straight into the spectacular melange and the wild contrast of styles and manners that define Jumpers. Vicki Mortimer's stage set consist mainly of a modish penthouse loft where Dotty, the young though retired musical comedy girl is holding a noisy party to celebrate the radical liberal victory at the polls. …

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