Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt introduced me to 38 characters I recognized instantly. Every person on stage was familiar in their talk, their thoughts, their walk, their actions.
This is Stoppard’s coming-to-terms with the discovery late in life that his mother and he were Jewish. Upon arriving in England from Vienna in the late 1930s his mother changed their names so that no one would know they were Jewish. He — and we — learn the family history and what happened to those they left behind as they escaped. No surprises here — really — but what a telling.
The writing is taut, as are the tableaux of the family in its home in Vienna, the acting, and the direction. Even the set, simple as it is, is spot on. Stunning me for a moment was the character Rosa, who had the precise posture and bearing of three German Jewish sisters (one our beloved family doctor here in NYC who delivered me and remained my doctor into my mid-20s, the others her nurse and office manager).
Go. You will hold your breath for a fleeting two hours and 10 minutes. At the end your muscles will be as taut as that writing. So rewarding.
Leopoldstadt is in previews at the Longacre Theater, formally opens next month, and is scheduled to run through January 29, 2023.