Click here for the individual plays: Voyage
; or the box set: The Coast of UtopiaComprising of three sequential plays, The Coast of Utopia chronicles the story of romantics and revolutionaries caught up in a struggle for political freedom in an age of emperors.
The Coast of Utopia
is Tom Stoppard’s long-awaited and monumental trilogy that explores a group of friends who come of age under the Tsarist autocracy of Nicholas I, and for whom the term “intelligentsia” was coined. Among them are the anarchist Michael Bakunin, who was to challenge Marx for the soul of the masses; Ivan Turgenev, author of some of the most enduring works in Russian literature; the brilliant, erratic young critic Vissarion Belinsky; and Alexander Herzen, a nobleman's son and the first self-proclaimed socialist in Russia, who becomes the main focus of this drama of politics, love, loss and betrayal. In The Coast of Utopia
, Stoppard presents an inspired examination of the struggle between romantic anarchy, utopian idealism and practical reformation in what The New York Times
calls, “The biggest theatrical event of the year. . . . Brilliant, sprawling. . . . A rich pageant.”
The year is 1852 and Alexander Herzen, who left Russia five years earlier, has arrived in London in retreat from a series of public and private calamities. Revolution has hit the rocksémigré circles in London (including Karl Marx) are buzzing with plots and intrigues, and Herzen’s money, as well as his sardonic wit, soon have an outlet among them. With the accession of Alexander IIthe reforming TsarHerzen’s revived spirits are boosted by the arrival of his childhood friend Nicholas Ogarev with his wife Natalie. Their journal “The Bell”, smuggles into Russia, enters its heyday in the struggle for the emancipation of the serfs. Will it be reform from above or revolution from below.
At home the “new men” who once looked on Herzen as their inspiration are in a hurry, and in London he is once more at odds with Michael Bakunin, who has escaped from exile in Siberia. Meanwhile Natalie Ogarev finds in him her romantic ideal, and Herzen’s public and private travails are far from over.