Rough Crossing

Rough Crossing

"Rough Crossing" is a 1985 comedic play by British playwright Tom Stoppard, "freely adapted from Ferenc Molnar's "Play at the Castle"." [Stoppard, Tom. "Rough Crossing". New York: Samuel French, Inc., 1988.] Set onboard the S.S. "Italian Castle", it follows world-renowned playwrights Sandor Turai and Alex Gal in their attempts to preserve, with the assistance of the unorthodox cabin steward Dvornichek, the relationship of their composer, Adam Adam, and his love, the leading lady Natasha Navratalova, despite the interference of lothario actor Ivor Fish's.

Infobox Play
name = Rough Crossing

image_size =
caption =
writer = Tom Stoppard
chorus =
characters =
mute =
setting = A Cherbourg - New York Crossing, Late 1920s - 1930s.
premiere =
place =
orig_lang = English
series =
subject =
genre = Comedy
web =
playbill =
ibdb_id =


Adapted from another play, "The Play at the Castle" by Hungarian dramatist Ferenc Molnár. Another English-language adaptation of this play was written in 1926 by P. G. Wodehouse, entitled "The Play's the Thing" [ [ THEATER REVIEW; Exaggeration's the Thing, via Wodehouse - New York Times ] ] .


Playwrights Sandor Turai, Alex Gal and their new composer Adam Adam have embarked on the trans-Atlantic ocean liner, "The S.S. Italian Castle" and are about to surprise their actors Natasha Navratilova and Ivor Fish with the newest song from their nearly-finished (or so they hope) musical comedy, "The Cruise of the Dodo". Unfortunately, they go to surprise the pair just as Ivor declares his love for Natasha, as Adam listens on in horror. Sending Gal to take Adam back to his cabin to comfort him, Turai hatches a plan to convince Adam that what they actually overheard was Ivor's pathetic attempt at playwrighting. Turai stays up the whole night writing a scene for Ivor and Natasha to play as an alternative version of Turai's ending, with the declaration of love inserted played as a scene. They are assisted by the sometimes dimwitted, sometimes brilliant, but always unconventional steward, Dvornichek. Despite many near revelations of Turai's plan, Adam and Natasha are reunited, and the playwrights find inspiration for a new comedy, courtesy of a script by the ship's captain. Having scripts thrust upon them by amateurs is only one of the running gags of the play. Others include Dvornichek's inability to gain his sea legs, until the ship is thrust into a turbulent storm, when only he is able to stay upright; Natasha and Ivor's inability to keep their scripts, both for the stage and their life, straight; Adam's peculiar speech impediment, he has trouble starting a sentence and often must continue a monologue indefinitely for fear of not starting ever again; and a very long delayed Cognac for Turai.

Production History

"Rough Crossing" made its New York debut with the Jean Cocteau Repertory Company in 1997, starring Craig Smith as Turai, Harris Berlinsky as Gal, Tim Deak as Adam, Elise Stone as Natasha, Charles Parnell as Ivor and Christopher Black as Dvornichek. [ [ CurtainUp Review of New York Debut] ] It played at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, MA, during the summer of 2007.

Music for the Play

Andre Previn wrote three original songs for the play, "This Could Be the One", "Where Do We Go From Here?", and "You Never Heard it From Me", with piano music available from the publishing company.

Critical Reception

The New York Times' Alvin Klein wrote gave a 1994 production of the show a favorable review, but noted "there's not all that much dazzle in Mr. Stoppard's razzle; the pizazz is in the production." [] CurtainUp reviewer Les Gutman calls the play "not terribly interesting", citing in particular a fundamental incompatibility between the source material's comedy and Stoppard's absurdist style. [ [ Rough Crossing, a CurtainUp review ] ]


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