Rock 'n' Roll

Tom Stoppard’s 2006 play has a 22-year timeline that begins under relatively happy circumstances in early 1968 as giddy Czech grad student Jan (Matthew Floyd Miller) bids farewell to his Cambridge mentor Max and Max’s daughter. Jan returns home to find the Prague Spring underway. From there, relatively short scenes feel pleasantly episodic as the action volleys between Prague and Cambridge, even as the political repression deepens. Changing haircuts and placards signal the passing years. Max (Denis Arndt) waxes elegiac about Communism’s charms, as cancer is tearing away at the body of his classics-professor wife. Jan argues about politics and music. Director Kurt Beattie keeps the pace brisk through the ideological battles, which means you have to pay attention. It’s definitely worth a little pre-show Googling about the Prague Spring to get familiar with Alexander Dubcek the reformer, Gustav Husak the hardliner, and Vaclav Havel the freedom fighter. MARGARET FRIEDMAN

Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Oct. 9. Continues through Nov. 8, 2009

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