directed byJack O'Brien
Tom Stoppard's THE INVENTION OF LOVE was produced to widespread acclaim by theaters in London, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Chicago before LCT brought it to New York at the Lyceum Theatre. For LCT's production, we were fortunate to be able to reunite Stoppard with director Jack O'Brien and designer Bob Crowley, who had previously collaborated so successfully on LCT's production of Hapgood. O'Brien, who also staged Pride's Crossing, The Little Foxes and Two Shakespearean Actors for LCT, directed The Full Monty on Broadway. Stoppard has always delighted theatergoers with dazzling wordplay and intellectual rigor, but people don't always acknowledge how much his writing touches the heart. Remember the romantic themes of Arcadia, which had a long run at LCT in 1995, or The Real Thing, which received a Tony-winning revival last season, or 1998's Oscar-winning Best Picture, Shakespeare in Love, which he co-authored. Love is once again on Stoppard's mind in this play, which imaginatively explores the life and afterlife of A.E. Housman, one of England's favorite poets—his best-known work is A Shropshire Lad—and a renowned classical scholar. The play begins in 1936 as the just-dead Housman prepares for Charon to ferry him across the River Styx. In the dialogue that follows, the playwright introduces the duality of Housman's nature: he is completely articulate about academic and literary matters but painfully unable to express his personal feelings. The play proceeds in a dreamlike fashion, moving back and forth across time. Early on, we are transported to Oxford University in the 1870s where Housman, as a student, first encounters the two great loves of his life: classical scholarship and classmate Moses Jackson, for whom Housman has an unrequited passion. Housman's dichotomous persona is further exemplified by the fact that two actors share the role, playing him at different ages. One of Stoppard's most sublime conceits, and perhaps his play's most stirring encounter, is achieved when the elder Housman meets his younger self.