EGBDF are the notes of the lines on the treble clef, though its mnemonic Every Good Boy Deserves Favour , being a Tom Stoppard title, is wittily and doubly relevant to his play about a Russian orchestra that gets mixed-up with the fate of an unjustly incarcerated political prisoner. That was my role, based on the real life case of a man who attacked the Soviet government for imprisoning a felow-dissident Vladimir Bukovsky. When Bukovsky slipped into our rehearsals one afternoon in London, the juxtaposition of dramatic fiction and actual fact, rendered me speechless and we abandoned rehearsals for tea. The play was a luxurious folly, or would have been had it been confined to its single performance at the Royal Festival Hall, with the Royal Shakespeare Company actors and the London Symphony Orchestra.

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This ingenious keyboard come. The orchestra is a figment of his, and of our, imagination. On stage at the Met, led by David Gilbert, are 81 musicians, dressed in blacktie for concert. It is Mr. The work was first presented for one performance at London's Royal Festival Hall in , and last season played an extended engagement at the Mermaid Theater. Since then, it has been done briefly, with various casts, in Philadelphia and Washington. At the Met, in a production directed by Mr.

Stoppard, the full orchestra and the enormous stage give the play a richness and even an opulence that embellishes the author's comic point of view. So much of the comedy comes from the contrast between the small reality — two men in a tiny cell — and the enormity of the delusion.

Giving a lunatic an orchestra is like turning a little boy into the general of a vast army. This discrepancy is demonstrated by musical as well verbal jokes. As the lunatic playing a triangle, Mr. Auberjonois has a look that is at the same time seraphic and soulful.

He has total belief in his orchestra and total scorn for what he considers their lack of artistry. It is a role that takes advantage of Mr. He thinks and therefore we believe that he has an orchestra.

The actor can also glide through the author's thicket of words. In common with Vladimir Nabokov, Mr. Stoppard can make the English language do handstands and pratfalls, merrily strewing his script with a plethora of puns, a surfeit of simulacra — and a high proportion of them are vintage Stoppard.

His hair cropped short, his face impassive, he offers a convincing portrait of a rational man trying to survive absurdity. The doctor diagnoses his case as schizophrenia and, prescribes a mild laxative. Remak Ramsay, standing tall and acting with apparent prokiety, makes the doctor seem a possible case for treatment; he just happens to be a violinist in an orchestra.

Stoppard's text is short the score is somewhat longer. The evening lasts about 70 minutes, but it speeds by, operating on several levels at once, as. However, one question remains. What if all the triangles, piccolos, cellos and kettle drums went blissfully in their own direction without benefit of score or conductor? The result would not be dissidence or dissonance but cacaphony. Directed by Ar. Stopped; settings and costumes by Eldon Elder; lighting by Thomas Skelton; orchestra conducted by David Gilbert; production stage manager, Mitchell Erickson.

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Every Good Boy Deserves Favour at the National Theatre, review

By David Benedict. Their dissidents-meet-dissonance piece does exactly that. Related Stories. A prisoner who has spoken out against the state, Alexander will be released if he concedes the brutal treatment he has received for his non-threatening beliefs was the correct cure for a mental condition. Gradually, however, this sophisticated series of entertaining textual and musical puns shifts to chillier concerns. Dissenters are removed and incarcerated in prisons misnamed as hospitals. Added expressionistic dance sequences illustrate state brutality.


Theater: Stoppard's Every Good Boy

This ingenious keyboard come. The orchestra is a figment of his, and of our, imagination. On stage at the Met, led by David Gilbert, are 81 musicians, dressed in blacktie for concert. It is Mr.


Words from Ian McKellen

Tom Stoppard's superb black comedy about Soviet dissidents has returned to the Olivier a year after it was first revived there, and watching it for the second time I was more convinced than ever that it is one of his greatest works. It may last little more than an hour but in its ambition, its indignation and its wit, this dark piece of musical theatre, written in partnership with Andre Previn, strikes me as a model of political theatre at its best. Last year there were complaints that the world had changed since the piece was premiered in , and that it had become irrelevant following collapse of the Soviet Union which regularly incarcerated dissidents in mental hospitals. Putin's Russia is hardly a holiday camp however, and it seems to me that the play works just as powerfully as a fable about any repressive regime that persecutes those it perceives to be its enemies. I must admit, however, that watching this committed and ingenious piece I wished that Stoppard would now deploy his supple brain and theatrical bravura on the cruel absurdities of militant Islam, the great issue of our present times. The play is set in a psychiatric hospital.


Every Good Boy Deserves Favour

Virtually assaulting the audience with a cascade of words and a conspicuous display of intellect, Stoppard, in Every Good Boy Deserves Favour , contrasts the circumstances of political prisoner and a mental patient in a Soviet insane asylum, to question the difference, if any, between free will and the freedom to conform. Professional Foul poses metaphysical problems in dazzling theatrical form. Employing high-spirited comedy and a serious attempt to debate a moral absolute, Stoppard considers the nature of ethical choice: is right or wrong determined by a recognized ideal, or must right or wrong be judged according to the particular situation? These areas can be as small as possible but each has to be approachable from each of the others, and the lighting on each ought to be at least partly controllable independently of the other two and of the orchestra itself, which needless to say occupies the platform. It will become clear in performance, but may well be stated now, that the orchestra for part of the time exists in the imagination of IVANOV. The orchestra tunes-up.

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