FRINGE REVIEW – Arcadia

*****

By Veronkia Kallus

Arcadia is a multi-layered piece of writing by Tom Stoppard – maybe the most intriguing play of our times by one of the most distinguished playwrights. Published and first performed in 1993, this play combines past and present, poetry and mathematics, and insights to landscape gardening and to academic practises maybe still carried out in our day and age. It is set in Sidley Park, an English country house, and introduces us to its inhabitants and guests in the early 19th century as well as scholars and family from the present. The contemporary scholars are trying to solve mysteries of the past – partly drawing inspiration from the fact that Lord Byron might have had a connection to the house, the 19th century cast draws our intention to a highly intelligent pupil, Thomasina Coverly, and her tutor Septimus Hodge.

To the audience’s delight, Close Up Theatre has enough time and enough (excellent) actors to play out the play to its full potential. The classic set up: one table that contains all props – past and present – books, laptop, the tortoise, the gardening portfolio and so on. The table is used by all actors and the stage is never changed, just entered by characters of the two different periods.

The actors are fulfilling any promise that could have possibly been set in them. There is not a single weak link, and to point out some especially would only be owed to the roles they played, rather than the way they were acting. They voices are thoroughly clear and audible, the acting superb – owing that it is always difficult to cast characters of different ages from a group of actors with similar age and some exaggerated performing almost can’t be avoided in such circumstances to make up for the lack of wrinkles and maturity.

This was an outstanding performance in its clarity, its simplicity and its class.

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