The best theatre in March 2020—Tom Stoppard's Leopoldstadt and Tartuffe at the Birmingham Rep

Plus The Seven Streams of the River Ota at the National Theatre
January 26, 2020

Leopoldstadt, Wyndham’s Theatre, 12th February to 13th June

The least autobiographical of playwrights, Tom Stoppard takes stock of his own central European Jewish background for the first time in his new epic directed by Patrick Marber. The scene is the old Jewish quarter of Leopoldstadt in Vienna, 1900, then humming with artistic and intellectual excitement and a lust for life, even among a community in flight from the pogroms in the East. “My father wore a caftan,” says a factory owner. “My father went to the opera in a top hat, and I have the singers to dinner.” This world did not last.

The Seven Streams of the River Ota, National Theatre, 6th to 22nd March

One of Québécois director Robert Lepage’s most beautiful and extraordinary works revisits the National on a world tour to mark the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. The first three-hour version was at the Edinburgh Festival in 1994, and the full seven-hour trilogy at the NT in 1996. The story emerges sideways, taking place in a hypnotic melange of panels, mirrors and expressive, gestural acting. There are nine performances on three successive weekends of Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Tartuffe, Birmingham Rep, 20th March to 4th April

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s acclaimed new version of Molière’s classic farce of religious hypocrisy and domestic disarray goes local, re-written by Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto (responsible for Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No 42 on television) and set in the Pakistani-Muslim community of Sparkhill, Birmingham. With Allah on his side, the titular Imam, described as a cross between Blackadder and Rasputin, sets out to win souls, marry the daughter and seduce the wife of his gullible host and devotee.