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A Work in Order and Disarray
Being a fan of Stoppard's work, I am likely an impartial judge, however, if you are looking for a play that combines Soviet history and classic rock into a tragicomic form, you ought to consider the virtues of Rock n' Roll. The play is primarily concerned with dissent against the Communist Party both in Czechoslovakia and England as it proceeds from the Prague Spring in 1968 and the Velvet Revolution in 1989. The work is secondly an homage to classical literature, Pink Floyd, and Václav Havel. Perhaps the greatest merit of the piece is it's dual nature, mirroring Stoppard's own understanding as a Czech-born British playwright, for Rock n' Roll is told both from the view of Western Marxists and that of democratic Czechs, miring the story in a sense of truthful chaos that could not be depicted so accurately otherwise.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
So imbedded in history and the writer's own tradition, Rock n' Roll can easily slip from being clearly linear into a maze of allusions and half-references. However, even amidst the minutia of historical detail, the true plot line emerges as a conflict between two forms of idealism and the effect of the generation gap upon what truly should be done to usher in a new form of government. The Cambridge household of Marxist professor Max and his wife Eleanor is the beacon of English tradition- standing mostly as a testament to the past, to the old world standard. Prague is constantly changing, communist, democratic, and oppressive. Indeed, the history may get in the way for those unfamiliar with Syd Barret, Charter 77, the Prague Spring, The Plastic People of the Universe, and the Velvet Revolution, but the marriage of rock and Sapphic poetry in order to illustrate the illusive nature of time and the recurrence of social themes can be grasped by any. Certainly, the use of google and wikipedia to recall terms that haven't been heard in years, to recapture details, and perhaps learn new ones may put off the less technologically savvy, but then, what work is great if we understand it the first time we see or read it? Things will always escape us the first time around, so it is best to read Rock n' Roll at least twice - once for the true plot, the other for the social commentary. Understanding will come from the combination of both.