Rock ’n’ Roll ★★★★ — Jewish Renaissance

What makes this extraordinarily multifaceted drama worth close attention is the debate, ongoing over decades, between the two protagonists. Jan (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) in 1968 is an idealistic young Czech Cambridge PhD student intent on returning home for the Prague Spring; and Max (Nathaniel Parker), his Marxist professor, sees all that is good in the Soviet ideal. They represent perhaps not only the debate between two iconic Czech writers, optimist Václav Havel and the more pessimistic Milan Kundera, but also Czech-born, passionately Anglophile Brit Stoppard’s own well-informed internal debate, which is influenced by his admiration for Havel, who emerged as the brave and battling Czech leader of the Prague Spring.

The shifts in time are underscored by the rock playlist, beginning with the music of Syd Barrett, co-founder of 1960s psych-rockers Pink Floyd. His plangent track ‘Golden Hair’ floats down from a Cambridge garden wall, overheard by teenage Esme (Phoebe Horne), who is enchanted to identify him (Brenock O’Connor) as ‘the great God Pan’, the piper at the gates of dawn.

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