Love's Labors Intensified

By Soloski, Alexis | American Theatre, October 1999 | Go to article overview

Love's Labors Intensified


Soloski, Alexis, American Theatre


Staging the American premiere of Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love might strike fear into even the stoutest of directorial hearts. No theatrical trifle, Invention concerns British poet A.E. Housman's veiled passion for his Oxford chum Moses Jackson. Atop this elegiac plot line, Stoppard layers Latin love poetry conned, corrupted and construed; a jaunt down the river Styx; Gilbert and Sullivan ditties; lively shifts in time and space; and the intercession of numerous historical figures, from Walter Pater to Oscar Wilde. Rather a lot to make intelligible to a Yankee audience unschooled in the finer points of English university life or Propetius' odes. But such a labor only excites American Conservatory Theater of San Francisco's artistic director Carey Perloff.

Perloff became personally acquainted with Stoppard while directing his Arcadia for ACT. They exchanged correspondences and eventually met face to face in the bar of London's National Theatre, where Stoppard handed her his Indian Ink in typescript form. Perloff directed Inky American premiere at ACT and the play enjoyed a sold-out run.

Odds are in her favor to repeat this success with Invention. …

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