Tom Stoppard’s Rough Crossing Review

Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield – until Saturday 27th April 2019

Reviewed by Charleigh Christmas


The play Rough Crossing written by Tom Stoppard in 1984, is a comedy set aboard an ocean liner, carrying a cast of characters on a journey to make their premier in New York.

The cast is made up of a pair of writers, a genius composer, two actors and an ever faithful steward. As the cast are on their voyage, it’s not smooth sailing for them as secrets are revealed, friendships are frayed and lives are threatened to be ruined. As serious as this all sounds, the play is remarkably light-hearted and witty in it’s telling.

The play felt as though the plot was a little stretched thin in the first half of the play, and I found that where it wanted to be funny the jokes were falling a bit flat. Introduced to “Turai” played by John Partidge, and “Gal” played by Matthew Cole, they are authors on their way to New York, having four days to rewrite their ending. Both did extremely well in their roles and had subtle characterisations. The character “Dvorrnichek” or “Murphy” was played by Charlie Stemp, and was by far my favourite character of the show. He drove the story forward and his comic timing was brilliant. He was able to move around the set and actually have me feeling like he was at sea.

The first half of the play ended with a musical number, which I felt was a little out of place and felt forced.

Going into the second half the play found it’s stride. I started to feel like it was a parody of itself, and I was laughing whole heartedly near the end. Although the plot did again feel forced, and a little confusing at times. I think the idea of having “Dvornichek” almost narrating and guiding us through the story was definitely needed.

The set was simple yet stunning, and the costumes were the same. I was taking note of the magnificent props that had been sourced for this production.

I would say the cast were a brilliant set of actors, and the direction was brilliant. It was unfortunate for me that the play itself was a tad weak.