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The Coast of Utopia: An Extended Run and Revival of Part I -- Good News for Tom Stoppard Lovers

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Gird your loins. Main Street Theater, which has experienced great success with Voyage, the first part of its The Coast of Utopia trilogy, has decided to extend its run and bring back the Voyage for two performances, "providing the chance to see all the parts of the trilogy over three consecutive days and/or all three parts in one day," the theater's press release said.

Voyage's last show was to have been in January and the second part Shipwreck began last Friday. But the buzz on the play has been terrific and a mini revival was added, certainly helpful to theater fans who missed the first part. The third part, Salvage, opens February 24. Although Voyage originally ran at Main Street's Chelsea Market Theater, it will join the other two parts at the Times Boulevard location.

"We will never be here again," says MST Executive Artistic Director Rebecca Greene Udden, who is also directing the trilogy. "The audience response to the trilogy has been overwhelming, and the artists involved are intensely invested in this whole journey. All along we had examined the possibility of doing a "Marathon Day," doing all three parts in one day. I initially decided that it was asking too much of the company, but it was the actors who insisted we needed to do this. Who am I to disagree? It's exhilarating to have that support and be able to do this."

The Coast of Utopia, by playwright Tom Stoppard, covers the years from 1833 to 1866, in the lives of Russian philosophers and revolutionaries trying to sort out life under Tsar Nicholas I. Main characters include anarchist Michael Bakunin, played by Guy Roberts, literary critic Vissarion Belinsky, played by Joel Sandel, literary giant Ivan Turgenev, played by Seán Patrick Judge, and revolutionary thinker Alexander Herzen, played by Joe Kirkendall.

Each section of the trilogy takes place in a different location, beginning with a Russian estate in Voyage, then to Paris and the revolution of 1848 for Shipwrecked and to London, where political émigrés gather in Salvage.

In Voyage, Stoppard creates a Chekhovian portrait of life on a Russian estate as he introduces the Bakunin family: Michael, his four sisters, his parents, their social circle and his growing intellectual circle.

Shipwreck shifts the focus to philosopher Alexander Herzen and the location to Paris against the backdrop of the Revolution of 1848. Herzen articulates the search for a Utopia, but even as he strives to reach it, it eludes him in a series of personal catastrophes.

In Salvage, a disillusioned Herzen finds solace in London within a community of political émigrés which includes Karl Marx and Bakunin, who has escaped from Siberia.

For ticket information and performance times, call 713-524-6706, or go online at www.mainstreettheater.com. All remaining performances are at MST - Rice Village, 2540 Times Blvd.

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