Arcadia

By Tom Stoppard

23 – 27 October 2012

Synopsis

The play is set in one space, the room used as a schoolroom at Sidley Park, a stately home in Derbyshire. The room overlooks the garden. There are two time periods, and the play moves between them, but the furniture and props do not change; they form part of the connection between the time periods.

The characters from the present try to work out what happened in the past, as the plot lines in both periods move forward. At the very end of the play the two time periods converge briefly in the space.

As Thomasina grows up and learns about maths and sex, the garden at Sidley Park changes from its Arcadian to its Gothic design. In the present, Hannah is investigating the Sidley Park hermit, Bernard trying to uncover a secret chapter in the life of Byron. In 1809, Septimus’s affair with Mrs Cater leads to a written challenge that misleads the characters of the present.

Tom Stoppard’s scintillating comedy Arcadia is a hilarious and touching mixture of sex, romance and literature – with a bit of garden history and chaos theory thrown in for good measure! Full of Stoppard’s characteristic wit and intellectual fireworks, a nineteenth-century story of Byronic passion unfolds in parallel with a modern-day tale of rival academics who vie with each other to uncover what happened.

After last year’s acclaimed production of King Lear, TTC has chosen another classic play to fill its prestigious autumn slot – but instead of tragedy, Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia is a brilliant, scintillating comedy, sparkling with his characteristic wit and intellectual fireworks. It won multiple awards and was acclaimed as a masterpiece when it was first produced, and it’s easy to see why! Elegantly structured, erudite, hilarious and with a poignant love story at its heart, Arcadia balances intellect and emotion, ideas and drama, and laugh-aloud comedy with the faintest breath of melancholy. The result is an extraordinary, touching, delightful play.

In a grand country house at the beginning of the nineteenth century, a young girl and her tutor study algebra, Latin and art while sexual intrigue erupts around them. A complex drama unfolds, involving passion, duels, intercepted letters and some very extreme gardening; while, in the modern day, a flamboyant professor arrives in the same country house – upsetting the research of another academic – ransacks the library, seduces the daughter of the master of the house and generally makes a nuisance of himself. In the past, the household is disrupted by a fast-paced, furiously comic scandal; in the present, the characters vie and argue with one another, trying to unravel what exactly happened. As the two stories echo and reflect each other, life, love, maths and literature mingle to create a heady mix of poetry, chaos theory and – of course – sex: ‘the attraction that Newton left out’.

Called ‘a supreme play of ideas’, ‘wrenchingly beautiful’ and ‘perhaps the greatest play of its time’, Arcadia is a must-see tour de force of playwriting.

Thomasina Katherine Webb
Septimus Chris Woodward
Jellaby Anthony Hoskin
Ezra Chater Marc Vickers
Richard Noakes Jonathan White
Lady Croom Samantha Comfort
Capt. Brice, RN David Adams
Hannah Jarvis Bridget Collins
Chloe Coverly Kez Francis-Watts
Bernard Andy Forsyth
Valentine Mark Hoskin
Gus & Augustus Mark Brown

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