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the Complete Review
the complete review - drama

Enter a Free Man

Tom Stoppard

general information | our review | links | about the author

Title: Enter a Free Man
Author: Tom Stoppard
Genre: Drama
Written: 1968
Length: 85 pages
Availability: Enter a Free Man - US
Enter a Free Man - UK
Enter a Free Man - Canada
  • Enter a Free Man was first performed 28 March 1968 at the St. Martin's Theatre, in a production directed by Frith Banbury and starring Michael Hordern
  • Enter a Free Man is a revised version of Stoppard's 1963 television play, A Walk on the Water

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Our Assessment:

B : Decent, fairly unambitious

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Enter a Free Man is a small play about a self-styled but unsuccessful inventor, George Riley. George isn't much of realist, but he's happy chasing his dreams -- but it's a burden to his wife, Persephone, and daughter Linda, "the Society for the Preservation of George Riley", as Linda calls them. George gets his pocket money from his daughter, and whiles away the time chasing his dreams or holding court at the local pub.
       As always, George thinks he's onto something (re-usable envelopes, in this case), but things don't quite work out. He has a home to return to, but the loving family is under some strain too, especially as Linda yearns for a bit more independence and chases dreams of her own (in the form of men -- dreams that turn out to be as unrealistic as her father's).
       Persephone is philosophical: she knows what she has in her husband, and that he wouldn't have had much success if he had stayed in business or done something else:

If he was going to be a failure anyway, he was better off failing at something he wanted to succeed at. So he would be an inventor. it appealed to him. He liked to ... break bounds. He got hold of a bit of enthusiasm. That was worth a lot.
       George has his eureka moments -- "This isn't like the others -- this is the real thing -- you'll see" -- but, of course, it's always like the others.
       Stoppard shows the misadventures and family tension, with George's threats to leave (also nothing new) and Linda's attempts to do the same, and eventually brings everyone round again, the bosom of the family the best place to be after all (and one of George's inventions nicely misfiring again at the close).
       It's a nice portrait of the dreamer George, and the dialogue and plot are all competent enough, but there's not much spark. It's a simple play, as Stoppard doesn't make anything special out of it.

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Enter a Free Man:
  • GCP production
Tom Stoppard: Other works by Tom Stoppard under review: Works about Tom Stoppard under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Drama under review

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About the Author:

       British dramatist Tom Stoppard, born in 1937, is author of such notable plays as Arcadia and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

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© 2004-2009 the complete review

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