Hooray for Bollywood?

Jumpers | Bombay Dreams | Assassins

Sometimes too much just isn’t enough. That was the only conclusion to draw from some of the wild flights of fancy that skidded to a landing on Broadway this spring. In an era when sure-bet revivals multiply like gerbils and producers frantically hedge their bets by casting celebrities (Ashley Judd in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, anyone?), imaginative risk seems intrinsically admirable, so it was all the more disappointing when the long-awaited musical Bombay Dreams, a tribute to the over-the-top aesthetic of Indian “Bollywood” movies, turned out-bizarrely-to be a little thin.

How could this have happened? Well, a hint might come from another piece of exorbitant whimsy that opened around the same time: a revival of Tom Stoppard’s 1972 play Jumpers. Featuring murder, theology, a moon landing, an agnostic archbishop of Canterbury, and a team of philosophy professors who double as gymnasts, Jumpers should by all rights be another prodigal display of Stoppardian wit, like his recent Invention of Love. But while glutted with conceptual extravagance (we might mention the naked woman swinging from a chandelier), Jumpers lacks a few dramaturgical essentials, like suspense and a protagonist whose welfare is in jeopardy. It is hard to really care about the characters in this handsome National Theatre production, directed by David Leveaux and designed by Vicki Mortimer with snazzy visual echoes of the lunar theme (curvy...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

Celia Wren is Commonweal’s media and stage critic.