Courtesy of Alexae Visale
In a producing coup by the fearless Shotgun Players, the biggest, chewiest drama by the greatest living playwright of the English-speaking world lands at the snug Ashby Stage in Berkeley. Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia, a deep-focus portrait of 19th-century Russia percolating with revolutionary characters and ideas, unfurls in three dialectically driven parts across seven and a half hours. This is the first West Coast staging of the 2007 Tony Award winner for Best Play.
Part One, Voyage, runs this month and next, followed by Shipwreck in 2013 and Salvage in 2014, when the entire trilogy will be presented. Shotgun artistic director Patrick Dooley is exhilarated and a little addled by the prospect of getting Voyage’s 23 actors onstage at the 118-seat Ashby (several will do double duty as stage managers). But he adores the play’s “lovers, dreamers, and idealists” based on real characters, who remind him of the Occupy movement protesters. “They may be awkward and stumbling and embarrassing, but they want to move the center and change the world.” March 14–April 15, Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, 510-845-6500, shotgunplayers.org