Arcadia

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Previewed 27 May 2009, Opened 4 June 2009, Closed 12 September 2009 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London

A major revival of Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia in London starring Samantha Bond, Nancy Carroll, Jessie Cave, Neil Pearson, Dan Stevens and Ed Stoppard and directed by David Leveaux.

April 1809, a stately home in Derbyshire where Thomasina, a gifted pupil, proposes a startling theory, beyond her comprehension. All around her, the adults, including her tutor Septimus, are preoccupied with secret desires, illicit passions and professional rivalries. Two hundred years later, academic adversaries Hannah and Bernard, are piecing together puzzling clues, curiously recalling those events of 1809, in their quest for an increasingly elusive truth. Tom Stoppard's Arcadia is a dazzling, witty masterpiece of misunderstanding and quest for knowledge, resonating across centuries.

The cast for this revival of Arcadia in London features Samantha Bond as 'Hannah Jarvis', Nancy Carroll as 'Lady Croom', Jessie Cave as 'Thomasina Coverly', Neil Pearson as 'Bernard Nightingale', Dan Stevens as 'Septimus Hodge' and Ed Stoppard as 'Valentine Coverly' along with Trevor Cooper, Sam Cox, Lucy Griffiths, Tom Hodgkins, Hugh Mitchell and George Potts. This revival is directed by David Leveaux with set designs by Hildegard Bechtler, costume designs by Amy Roberts, lighting by Paul Anderson and sound by Simon Baker. Arcadia originally premiered in London at the National Theatre in April 1993 before transferring in May 1994 to the Theatre Royal Haymarket where it played for just over two years.

"Certainly there are moments in David Leveaux's revival when you are bowled along on a wave of pleasure, surfing the play's metaphysical crests about the nature of chaos and order, the pursuit of truth and, for instance, why you can stir things together but not stir them apart - think jam and rice pudding. The answer to that one can be explained, with surprising simplicity, as a consequence of time moving forwards but never backwards. Occasionally you can just let the witty irony flow over you in lines such as: 'Sexual congress - is it the same as love?' 'Oh no. It is much nicer than that,' and: 'Is God a Newtonian?' 'An Etonian? Almost certainly, I'm afraid.' There are also odd instances, though, when I confess that I was sunk by such things as Fermat's Last Theorem, integrated algorithms, entropy or something overly-academic. According to one of the characters, algebra may well save the world. Not if I'm doing the maths. I'm happier solving the emotional mystery of who is being made love to in the gazebo and by whom. Thankfully, for the most part, the warmth and force of the performances from Neil Pearson, Nancy Carroll, Dan Stevens and Samantha Bond balance the brain-ache with the heartbreak quite beautifully. Exacting but exhilarating theatre." The Mail on Sunday

Neil Pearson, who plays 'Bernard Nightingale' in this revival, says: "Acting in Arcadia is the closest you can get to rehearsing The Cherry Orchard with Chekhov in the room. It's probably the best play by probably the best living playwright. And having Tom Stoppard in the room is useful and oppressive in roughly equal measure. The important thing is to keep the admiration out of the room. Yes, it touches on ideas about chaos theory, entropy, poetry, history - he connects documents with people over a span of 200 years. But Tom is too good a playwright not to put over complex ideas in ways that can be understood. He never allows his intellectual rigour to get in the way of good comedy dialogue... I saw the original production, in which Bill Nighy played Bernard. But much as I admire Bill, you have to start with a blank canvas, and fill it in as you go."

Arcadia in London at the Duke of York's Theatre previewed from 27 May 2009, opened on 11 June 2009 and closed on 12 September 2009.