On January 11, 2008, I saw Tom Stoppard's Rock `n' Roll on Broadway with Brian Cox and Sinead Cusack in starring roles. Stoppard was born in Czechoslovakia and left with his family at an early age to escape from the Hitler terror. The play is about the Communist rule in his native country and the power of rock and roll to help breach cracks in the totalitarian regime. The music of the young was probably more influential and revolutionary than the endless petitions by the dissidents.
As usual with a Stoppard play, it is talky, clever, more focused on the political and philosophical than the truly dramatic. There's no question that Stoppard is bright and witty, but unfortunately his plays can be murky at times. The scenes in the play are separated by segments of rock and roll tracks by the Rolling Stones, the Plastic People, Pink Floyd, John Lennon, and others.
The women in this play and his "Coast of Utopia" are more vibrant, more dramatically potent, more believable, and draw more of an emotional response from the audience than his male characters who blather on and on, and who are more political, more theoretical, and ineffective. One scene near the end of Act One between Max and his wife Eleanor in which she confronts him with the cancer killing her is an emotionally draining one for the audience and the dramatic highpoint of the play. Stoppard's women get to you in your gut. His men at times seem to be drowning in gibberish.
There are few playwrights as daring, innovative, and intellectual as Stoppard, but there are other playwrights who are more dramatically and emotionally disturbing.