Screening on Tuesday, February 16 at 6pm, our first OnScreen film for 2022 is Leopoldstadt (pictured), the critically acclaimed new work from internationally lauded playwright Tom Stoppard. Regarded as ‘Britain’s greatest living playwright’ (Times), Tony and Academy award-winner Leopoldstadt is a passionate drama of love, family and endurance.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Leopoldstadt was the old, crowded Jewish quarter of Vienna, Austria. But Hermann Merz, a factory owner and baptised Jew now married to Catholic Gretl, has moved up in the world. We follow his family’s story across half a century, passing through the convulsions of war, revolution, impoverishment, annexation by Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
A company of 40 actors represent each generation of the family in this epic, but intimate play.
Central to the play is the sprawling, extended Merz family, who are Jewish intellectuals, living in the tumultuous first half of the 20th century. When we first meet them, in 1899, they’re free citizens of the Austro-Hungarian empire, a place where Jews have been legally emancipated for over a century.
Leopoldstadt itself was once Vienna’s ghetto – now just a distant folk memory of a less enlightened age. By the final scene, set in 1955, this huge family has been mostly eradicated.