Last Updated September 5, 2023.
Largo Desolato is a play by Vaclav Havel, which was written after Havel's release from prison. Like Havel, the protagonist Professor Leopold Nettles is a dissident. Leopold displays extreme paranoia at the beginning of the play and throughout. This paranoia stems from his political writings, which have received a mass following among other political dissidents and intellectuals, but has drawn the ire of the government.
In fact, Leopold is under surveillance throughout much of the narrative, and he believes that the police will arrest him at any minute. Largo Desolato is semi-autobiographical, so this is perhaps Vaclav Havel's articulation of his pre-prison and post-prison paranoia.
The most obvious element of the play is the use of repetition—both the words spoken by recurring characters and the scenes themselves—which gives the audience a sense of time warp, in which a particular moment is stuck on loop. This technique is used to show the psychological state of Leopold. He figuratively and literally feels stuck in his chosen career, his marriage, and his responsibilities as a political essayist.