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Who's who in Travesties?

Who's who in Travesties?
posted 26 Apr 2018

Henry Carr (played by Lee Simmonds)

‘Carr is truly the travesty of the piece. He's got a classic case of inferiority syndrome in a position he doesn't have the capabilities for, which is always entertaining to watch. He also loves clothes which is fun and relatable and means I get to sport one of the silkiest dressing gowns I have ever touched.’

James Joyce (played by Kate Weir)

‘The main thing I can say about Joyce is that he had a lot of trouble with his eyesight - indeed, I will be wearing glasses for this role. He was an Irishman, though an Irish accent will be used sparingly: in a spark of genius, Tom Stoppard has made the characters from Carr’s memory correspond to characters from The Importance of Being Earnest. Joyce is Lady Bracknell - and if there’s anything Lady Bracknell isn’t, it's Irish.’

Vladimir Lenin (played by Stas Butler)

‘Lenin is an intense, charismatic man with a very dry sense of humour. He isn't a big fan of the Russian government.’

Tristan Tzara (played by Julia Pilkington)

‘Tzara is a little man with a big gob and a bigger ego. He doesn't believe in tea-cakes, causality or speaking quietly . He does believe in nonsense and cutting up Shakespearean sonnets. If he was alive now, he'd probably be into conspiracy theories and, most importantly, himself.’


In Travesties, these big names are constantly swapping insults as well as philosophies. The cast and crew weighed in on the debate… Who would win in a fight: Lenin, Tzara, or Joyce?

  1. Olivia White (Gwendolen Carr): Despite Gwen’s love for Tzara, she’s too smart to actually think he’d win this one, so behind the scenes she’d probably put her money on the more likely victor Lenin (even though he’s a Bolshevik).
  2. Jon Berry (Bennett): Backing Lenin. Only one who ever got anything done.
  3. Charles Britton (marketing): James Joyce: he's so beyond the pale that everyone kicks the bucket when he walks into the pub.
  4. Martha Harlan (ensemble): Definitely Joyce. Tzara may have a few power moves but Joyce has stamina.
  5. Stas Butler (Lenin): Personally I'd back Lenin – his ground game probably isn't very strong but I think he could overwhelm Joyce with a flurry of jabs and low kicks and then finish him with a flying knee. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if Joyce had picked up a few tricks in the Dublin bare knuckle boxing scene, and that tactical nous could prove decisive if it got to the later rounds.
  6. Charles Pidgeon (associate producer): Tristan Tzara. He cut up the cultural institution of poetry, he can easily cut up the other two lightweights.
  7. Seb Dows-Miller (lighting design): Anyone except Lenin, because communism always leads to failure.

Lenin definitely has a few words to say about that last one in the production. Catch the adventures of Carr, Lenin, Joyce, and Tzara in Tom Stoppard’s Travesties, an energetic comedy coming to the Oxford Playhouse next week.

Want to find out more? then come along to the free pre-show talk on Friday 4 May, with University of Oxford academics Kirsten Shepherd-Barr and Sos Eltis.

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