Tom Stoppard's unmistakable brand of witty drama has been in high circulation recently, between his adapted screenplay for Hollywood's Anna Karenina and a recent staging of Arcadia at A.C.T. Probably the best and certainly the most impressive Stoppard staging, however, was Shotgun Players' production of Shipwreck — part two of the hulking and heady Coast of Utopia series. For a company this small to take on a production this big — a cast of more than thirty signed on for the run, which is spaced over three years — is as much folly as it is an act of splendid devotion. Yet on its own, Shipwreck was enough to sustain a theater lover for some time. Featuring a group of pre-revolution socialist friends (Stoppard's left-field erudition is a perfect match for the Berkeley and broader East Bay intellectual current) as they gallivant around volatile 19th-century Europe, spouting their theses and romancing one another, Shipwreck is an embarrassment of theatrical riches. Shotgun Players, in spite of its limitations, graciously brought them to life.
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