The Coast of Utopia

The Coast of Utopia is a 2002 trilogy of plays: Voyage, Shipwreck, and Salvage, written by Tom Stoppard with focus on the philosophical debates in pre-revolution Russia between 1833 and 1866. It was the recipient of the 2007 Tony Award for Best Play. The title comes from a chapter in Avrahm Yarmolinsky's book Road to Revolution: A Century of Russian Radicalism (1959).

The trilogy, nine hours in total, premiered with Voyage on 22 June 2002 at the National Theatre's Olivier auditorium in repertory, directed by Trevor Nunn. The openings of Shipwreck and Salvage followed on 8 July, and 19 July, completing its run on 23 November 2002. In 2006, directed by Jack O'Brien, the plays debuted on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, New York City, where it closed on 13 May 2007 after a combined total of 124 performances.

The trilogy has also been performed in Russia; it opened at Moscow's Russian Academic Youth Theatre in October 2007, directed by Alexey Borodin.

The trilogy received its Japanese premiere at Theater Cocoon, Bunkamura in Tokyo on 12 September 2009 and completed its run (including 10 one-day marathon performances) on 4 October 2009. The production was directed by Yukio Ninagawa.

The Coast of Utopia
The Coast of Utopia Trilogy
Written byTom Stoppard
CharactersAlexander Herzen
Vissarion Belinsky
Ivan Turgenev
Mikhail Bakunin
Date premiered22 June 2002
Place premieredOlivier Theatre
London, England
Original languageEnglish
SeriesThe Coast of Utopia:
Settingpre-revolution Russia

Production history

London premiere

Directed by Trevor Nunn, the trilogy premiered with Voyage at the Olivier Theatre in London on 22 June 2002, followed by Shipwreck and Salvage with a six-month run ended on 23 November 2002.[1]

Reviewing the play in The Guardian, drama critic Michael Billington wrote, "Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia in the Olivier is a bundle of contradictions. Comprising three three-hour plays, it is heroically ambitious and wildly uneven. ... But I wouldn't have missed it for worlds and at its heart it contains a fascinating lesson about the nature of drama."[2] He further commented on Stoppard the dramatist, "I think it is time we began to appreciate Stoppard not for his intellectual legerdemain, but for what he is actually best at: exploring the mystery of existence, the anguish of the human heart and the strange fact that it is our apprehension of death that gives joy and intensity to life."[3]

Broadway debut

The trilogy's Broadway debut was directed by Jack O'Brien at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York City. The cast included Brían F. O'Byrne, Richard Easton, Jennifer Ehle, Billy Crudup, Ethan Hawke, Josh Hamilton, Martha Plimpton, David Harbour, Jason Butler Harner and Amy Irving.[4] Viewed as "the season's ultimate snob ticket",[4] the production ran from November 2006 to May 2007 with a combined total of 124 performances.

In his review for The New York Times, Ben Brantley called the production "brave and gorgeous", adding that "I wouldn't call it [the play] a major work of art. In literary terms I wouldn't even rank it with Mr. Stoppard's best (in which I include the Broadway-bound Rock 'n' Roll). But as directed by Jack O'Brien and acted and designed by a stellar team of artisans, Utopia is a major work of theatrical craftsmanship, a luscious advertisement for the singular narrative seductiveness of drama."[4]

The production was nominated for ten Tony Awards and won seven, breaking the Tony record for the most awards given to a play.[5][6]

Characters and cast

The following table indicates the roles played by the main cast in London, New York, and Moscow, respectively. Several principal actors played multiple roles in each of the three plays.

Role in Voyage Role in Shipwreck Role in Salvage Actor in London, 2002 Actor in New York, 2006 Actor in Moscow, 2007
Alexander Herzen Stephen Dillane Brían F. O'Byrne Ilya Isaev
Liubov Bakunin Natalie Herzen Malwida von Meysenbug Eve Best Jennifer Ehle Nelly Uvarova
Vissarion Belinsky n/a Will Keen Billy Crudup Evgeny Redko
Ivan Turgenev Guy Henry Jason Butler Harner Alexey Miasnikov
Mikhail Bakunin Douglas Henshall Ethan Hawke Stepan Morozov
Alexander Bakunin Leonty Ibayev Stanislaw Worcell John Carlisle Richard Easton Viktor Tsymbal
Varenka Bakunin Natasha Tuchkova Natasha Tuchkova Ogareva Charlotte Emmerson Martha Plimpton Ramilya Iskander

Awards and nominations

  • 2007 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Play
  • 2007 New York Drama Critics' Circle Best Play
  • 2007 Tony Award for Best Play
  • 2007 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Music for a Play (Mark Bennett)


  1. ^ "The Coast of Utopia: Voyage". Royal National Theatre. 2008. Archived from the original on 18 May 2011. Retrieved 29 June 2008.
  2. ^ Billington, Michael (5 August 2002). "The Coast of Utopia". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  3. ^ Billington, Michael (7 August 2002). "The real thing". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Brantley, Ben (19 February 2007). "Those Storm-Tossed Revolutionaries Reach Port". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  5. ^ Robertson, Campbell (15 May 2007). "'Spring Awakening' Gets 11 Tony Nominations". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  6. ^ Robertson, Campbell (11 June 2007). "'Coast of Utopia' Breaks a Tony Record for Awards Given to a Play". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 March 2011.

Further reading

  • Stoppard, Tom (2002). The Coast of Utopia: Voyage. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-21661-7.
  • Stoppard, Tom (2002). The Coast of Utopia: Shipwreck. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-21662-5.
  • Stoppard, Tom (2002). The Coast of Utopia: Salvage. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-21664-1.

External links

2003 Laurence Olivier Awards

The 2003 Laurence Olivier Awards were held in 2003 in London celebrating excellence in West End theatre by the Society of London Theatre.

61st Tony Awards

The 61st Annual Tony Award ceremony was held on June 10, 2007 at Radio City Music Hall, with CBS television broadcasting live. The cut-off date for eligibility was May 9, meaning that to be qualified for the 2006-2007 season, shows must have opened before or on this date.

Jane Krakowski and Taye Diggs announced the nominations on May 15, 2007.This Tony Awards telecast won an Emmy Award, Outstanding Special Class Program, at the 59th Creative Arts Emmy Awards presented on September 8, 2007. Glenn Weiss, the director of the awards show, received a Directors Guild of America Awards nomination, Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Musical Variety (television).

Amy Irving

Amy Davis Irving (born September 10, 1953) is an American actress of film, stage, and television. Her accolades include an Obie Award, two Golden Globe Award nominations, and one Academy Award nomination.

Born in Palo Alto, California to actors Jules Irving and Priscilla Pointer, Irving spent her early life in San Francisco before her family relocated to New York City during her teenage years. In New York, she made her Broadway debut in The Country Wife (1965–1966) at age 13. Irving subsequently studied theater at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre and at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art before making her feature film debut in Brian De Palma's Carrie (1976), followed by a lead role in the 1978 supernatural thriller The Fury (1978).

In 1980, Irving appeared in a Broadway production of Amadeus before being cast in Yentl (1983), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 1988, she received an Obie Award for her Off-Broadway performance in a production of The Road to Mecca, and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her performance in the comedy Crossing Delancey (1988).

Irving went on to appear in the original Broadway production of Broken Glass (1994) and the revival of Three Sisters (1997). In film, she starred in the ensemble comedy Deconstructing Harry (1997), and reprised her role in The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999) before co-starring opposite Michael Douglas in Steven Soderbergh's crime-drama Traffic (2000). She subsequently appeared in the independent films Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2001) and Adam (2009). From 2006–2007, she starred in the Broadway production of The Coast of Utopia. In 2018, she reunited with Soderbergh, appearing in a supporting role in his horror film Unsane.

Billy Crudup

William Gaither "Billy" Crudup ( born July 8, 1968) is an American actor. He is a four-time Tony Award nominee, winning once for his performance in Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia in 2007. He has starred in numerous high-profile films, including Without Limits, Almost Famous, Big Fish, Mission: Impossible III, Watchmen, Public Enemies, Spotlight, Jackie, The Stanford Prison Experiment, Justice League, and Alien: Covenant, in both lead and supporting roles. He also starred in the Netflix original series Gypsy opposite Naomi Watts. He has been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

From 1998 to 2005, Crudup was the narrator for "Priceless", a U.S. television ad campaign for MasterCard.

Bob Crowley

Bob Crowley (born 1952) is a theatre designer (scenic and costume), and theatre director.

Brian MacDevitt

Brian MacDevitt is a lighting designer for theatrical productions. He has worked extensively on Broadway and Off Broadway, as well as touring, Regional theatre, and Industrial productions.

A Long Island, New York, native, Brian graduated from SUNY Purchase with a degree in Lighting Design from the Department of Design/Technology of the Division of Theatre Arts & Film. After graduation Brian spent a decade honing his craft with Off Broadway and other productions, and also developed a reputation as a teacher of design. He began teaching at Purchase as a visiting professor in 1986. He continued to balance his teaching career while breaking into Broadway in 1994 with What's Wrong With This Picture? Brian started to achieve notice with the Terrence McNally play Love! Valour! Compassion! in 1995. His success continued through the 1990s, and eventually culminated with a Tony Award for Best Lighting Design in 2002 for the revival of Into the Woods. He won again in 2005 for The Pillowman, in 2007 for The Coast of Utopia, sharing the award with Kenneth Posner and Natasha Katz (The three also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for Utopia.) Brian won the Tony in 2009 for his lighting of the play "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" and again in 2011, for the musical "Book of Mormon".

In fall of 2009 season, Brian is designed the revival of Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs, Broadway Bound and David Mamet's new play Race. In the 2010 season he designed A Behanding in Spokane, Fences, Armida at The Metropolitan Opera, and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. In 2011 he has designed The Book of Mormon, Le Compte Ory at The Metropolitan Opera and The House of Blue Leaves.

He is proud to have four former students designing on Broadway this season, Kenneth Posner, Jeff Croiter, Jason Lyons, and Jennifer Schriever.

Brian is currently an Associate Professor of lighting design at the University of Maryland, College Park, starting in the fall of 2009.

Catherine Zuber

Catherine Zuber is a costume designer for the Broadway theater and opera, among other venues. She is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, and has been referred to as "one of theater's most sought-after costume designers on both coasts."

Corrado Invernizzi

Corrado Invernizzi is an Italian actor, born in Genoa.

David Harbour

David Kenneth Harbour (born April 10, 1975) is an American actor. He is best known for his role as Jim Hopper in the Netflix science fiction horror series Stranger Things (2016–present), which has earned him a Critics' Choice Television Award in 2018. He has also received Primetime Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for the role.

Jack O'Brien (director)

Jack O'Brien (born June 18, 1939) is an American director, producer, writer and lyricist. He served as the Artistic Director of the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California from 1981 through the end of 2007.O'Brien has won three Tony Awards and been nominated for seven more, and won five Drama Desk Awards. He has directed and produced musicals, including The Full Monty and Hairspray, contemporary dramas such as The Piano Lesson, The Invention of Love and The Coast of Utopia, Shakespeare classics, including Hamlet and Henry IV (a combination of Part 1 and Part 2), and operas, including Il trittico at the Metropolitan Opera.

He has also been associated with some notorious Broadway failures. In 1972, he wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the book for The Selling of the President, which closed after five performances. The Old Globe also co-produced the stage adaptation of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, which closed after only one performance.

Jason Butler Harner

Jason Thomas Butler Harner (born October 9, 1970) is an American actor.

Jennifer Ehle

Jennifer Anne Ehle (; born December 29, 1969) is a British-American actress. She won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for her role as Elizabeth Bennet in the 1995 BBC miniseries Pride and Prejudice. For her work on Broadway, she won the 2000 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for The Real Thing, and the 2007 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for The Coast of Utopia. She is the daughter of English actress Rosemary Harris and American author John Ehle.

Ehle made her West End debut in Peter Hall's 1991 production of Tartuffe, and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1995. Other television credits include The Camomile Lawn (1992), A Gifted Man (2011–2012) and The Looming Tower (2018). She has also appeared in supporting roles in such films as Wilde (1997), Sunshine (1999), The King's Speech (2010), Contagion (2011), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), RoboCop (2014), and Fifty Shades of Grey (2015). Ehle also portrayed Lydia Marsh in The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018).

Josh Hamilton (actor)

Joshua Cole Hamilton (born June 9, 1969) is an American actor.

Hamilton was born in New York City, the son of actors Sandra Kingsbury and Dan Hamilton. His former stepmother was actress Stephanie Braxton. His Broadway credits include Proof and The Coast of Utopia (2007, Lincoln Center).

Kenneth Posner

Kenneth Posner is an American theatrical lighting designer, working on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and in American regional theatre. His most notable designs include the musicals Wicked and Hairspray, two highly regarded musicals of the early 21st century. He has been nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design 10 times, including nods for Merchant of Venice (2011), The Coast of Utopia (2007), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005), Wicked (2004), Hairspray (2003), and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (2001). He has also been nominated 10 times for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design, and won both the Tony and Drama Desk award in 2007 for The Coast of Utopia. He also has received an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Lighting. He also designed the lights for Little Women.

In 2013, Posner achieved a near-sweep of the nominations for the Tony Award for best lighting design of a musical, garnering nods in three of the four eligible slots (for Kinky Boots, Pippin, and Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella), but did not win.

Posner was educated at SUNY Purchase, where Brian MacDevitt also attended. He is a 1983 graduate of Eastchester High School in Eastchester, New York. He also attended Boston University College of Fine Arts.

Posner is a resident of Verona, New Jersey.

Martha Plimpton

Martha Campbell Plimpton (born November 16, 1970) is an American actress, singer, and former model. Her feature film debut was in The River Rat (1984) before rising to prominence in the Richard Donner film The Goonies (1985). She has also appeared in The Mosquito Coast (1986), Running on Empty (1988), Parenthood (1989), Samantha (1992), Raising Hope (2010) and Small Town Murder Songs (2011).

Until 2014, she had spent her whole life living on the Upper West Side before moving to Brooklyn., She is recognized on Broadway for her roles in The Coast of Utopia (2006–2007), Top Girls (2007–2008), Pal Joey (2008–2009) and Shining City (2006–2007). She has performed in theatre productions of The Playboy of the Western World, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Glass Menagerie, The Sisters Rosensweig, and Uncle Vanya. She returned to Broadway in the fall of 2014 in a revival of A Delicate Balance co-starring Glenn Close and John Lithgow.Plimpton most recently starred in The Real O'Neals, an ABC sitcom that aired from March 2016 to March 2017. In 2009 Plimpton portrayed a helpless mom being robbed by two criminals in the music video "Bully" by Three Days Grace.

Plimpton played Virginia Chance on the Fox sitcom Raising Hope, which earned her a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. She has also received three Tony Award nominations as well as a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2002, and again in 2012 as attorney Patti Nyholm in the CBS legal drama The Good Wife.

Natasha Katz

Natasha Katz is a lighting designer for the theatre, dance, and opera.

Richard Easton

John Richard Easton (born March 22, 1933) is a Canadian actor. He is best known for his portrayal of Brian Hammond in the 1970s BBC serial The Brothers.

Scott Pask

Scott Pask is an American scenic designer. He has worked primarily on stage productions in the United States, on Broadway and Off-Broadway, and in regional theatre, as well as in the United Kingdom. He won the Tony Award for his work on The Pillowman, The Coast of Utopia and The Book of Mormon.

Tom Stoppard

Sir Tom Stoppard (born Tomáš Straussler; 3 July 1937) is a Czech-born British playwright and screenwriter. He has written prolifically for TV, radio, film and stage, finding prominence with plays such as Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Professional Foul, The Real Thing, The Invention of Love, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. He co-wrote the screenplays for Brazil, The Russia House, and Shakespeare in Love, and has received an Academy Award and four Tony Awards. His work covers the themes of human rights, censorship and political freedom, often delving into the deeper philosophical thematics of society. Stoppard has been a key playwright of the National Theatre and is one of the most internationally performed dramatists of his generation. In 2008, The Daily Telegraph ranked him number 11 in their list of the "100 most powerful people in British culture".Born in Czechoslovakia, Stoppard left as a child refugee, fleeing imminent Nazi occupation. He settled with his family in Britain after the war, in 1946, having spent the three years prior (1943–1946) in a boarding school in Darjeeling in the Indian Himalayas. After being educated at schools in Nottingham and Yorkshire, Stoppard became a journalist, a drama critic and then, in 1960, a playwright.

Stage plays
Radio plays
Awards for The Coast of Utopia

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.