''Leaving,'' at The Wilma, is an Intersection of Politics and Theatre
by Bob Nelson, for KYW 1060
Václav Havel is a Czech intellectual of staggering accomplishments. The last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic, he’s written more than 20 plays.
His most recent one, “Leaving,” is now enjoying its American premiere at the Wilma Theatre.
And it’s a production of vast complexities — even some silliness — embracing elements of theatrical truth.
Sixteen years ago, Philadelphia awarded Havel its Liberty Medal. And in his latest play, our playwright fills the Wilma stage with the noisy mechanics of a chancellor of an unnamed country leaving office in a manner that might have come from a Shakespeare or Chekhov drama.
There’s a large, busy cast from which the playwright’s recorded voice reminds us that “theatre can be a copy of life.”
The distinguished-looking David Strathairn (who played Edward R. Murrow in Good Night and Good Luck) shines as our fading politician. The Wilma’s Jiri Ziska directs.
There are flashes of sex, nudity, and physical violence, and although the play occasionally dawdles, “Leaving” is more than a routine romp dealing with the relationship of politics and theatre.
It’s scheduled to run through June 20th at the Wilma Theatre, 265 South Broad Street, in center city Philadelphia.