Play by Tom Stoppard. 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. Hell's bells and all's well - half the world is at peace with itself, and so is the other half.
Original West End London Production 1993 / 1994
Previewed 5 April 1993, Opened 13 April 1993, Closed 24 November 1993 (in repertory) at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre
Previewed 19 May 1994, Opened 23 May 1994, Closed 3 June 1996 at the Haymarket Theatre
The original London cast at the National Theatre from 5 April 1993 featured Emma Fielding as 'Thomasina Coverly', Rufus Sewell as 'Septimus Hodge', Allan Mitchell as 'Jellaby', Derek Hutchinson as 'Ezra Chater', Sidney Livingstone as 'Richard Noakes', Harriet Walter as 'Lady Croom', Graham Sinclair as 'Captain Edward Brice', Felicity Kendal as 'Hannah Jarvis', Harriet Harrison as 'Chloe Coverly', Bill Nighy as 'Bernard Nightingale', Samuel West as 'Valentine Coverly', and Timothy Matthews as 'Augustus Coverly'/'Gus Coverly'.
The original West End cast at the Haymarket Theatre from 19 May 1994 featured Lucy Whybrow as 'Thomasina Coverly', Edward Atterton as 'Septimus Hodge', Allan Mitchell as 'Jellaby', Derek Hutchison as 'Ezra Chater', Timothy Kightley as 'Richard Noakes', Julie Legrand as 'Lady Croom', Timothy Bentinck as 'Captain Edward Brice', Joanne Pearce as 'Hannah Jarvis', Rachel Fielding as 'Chloe Coverly', Roger Allam as 'Bernard Nightingale', and Charles Simpson as 'Valentine Coverly', with Peter Andrew-Barnes and Simon Blake sharing the double-role of 'Augustus Coverly'/'Gus Coverly'.
The second cast at the Haymarket Theatre from Monday 5 December 1994 featured Maria Miles as 'Thomasina Coverly', Alexander Hanson as 'Septimus Hodge', Allan Mitchell as 'Jellaby', Colin Stepney as 'Ezra Chater', Timothy Kightley as 'Richard Noakes', Julie Legrand as 'Lady Croom', Graham Sinclair as 'Captain Edward Brice', Dearbhla Molly as 'Hannah Jarvis', Emily Hamilton as 'Chloe Coverly', Paul Shelley as 'Bernard Nightingale', and Nicholas Boulton as 'Valentine Coverly'.
Directed by Trevor Nunn, with choreography by Jane Gibson, designs by Mark Thompson, lighting by Paul Pyant, music by Jeremy Sams, and sound by Scott Myers.
This production was especially recorded by the BBC for radio, in an adaptation by Tom Stoppard, with the original National Theatre cast, directed for the radio by David Benedictus, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday 26 December 1993.
1st West End London Revival 2009
Previewed 27 May 2009, Opened 4 June 2009, Closed 12 September 2009 at the Duke of York's Theatre
A major revival of Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia in London starring Samantha Bond, Neil Pearson, Dan Stevens and Ed Stoppard
The cast featured Jessie Cave as 'Thomasina Coverly', Dan Stevens as 'Septimus Hodge', Sam Cox as 'Jellaby', George Potts as 'Ezra Chater', Trevor Cooper as 'Richard Noakes', Nancy Carroll as 'Lady Croom', Tom Hodgkins as 'Captain Edward Brice', Samantha Bond as 'Hannah Jarvis', Lucy Griffiths as 'Chloe Coverly', Neil Pearson as 'Bernard Nightingale', Ed Stoppard as 'Valentine Coverly', and Hugh Mitchell as 'Augustus Coverly'/'Gus Coverly'.
Directed by David Leveaux, with choreography by Scarlett Mackmin, sets by Hildegard Bechtler, costumes by Amy Roberts, lighting by Paul Anderson, music by Corin Buckeridge, and sound by Simon Baker
Samantha Bond's London theatre credits include 'Lady Driver' in Jeremy Sams' revival of Michael Frayn's Donkeys' Years at the Comedy Theatre in 2006; 'Lady Macbeth' in Edward Hall's revival of William Skaespeare's Macbeth at the Albery Theatre in 2002; 'Mary' in Terry Johnson's production of Shelagh Stephenson's The Memory of Water at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1999; Anthony Page's production of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women at the Wyndham's Theatre in 1995; the title role of 'Amy Thomas' in Richard Eyre's production of David Hare's Amy's View at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 1997, and West End transfer to the Aldwych Theatre in 1998; 'Celia' in David Thacker's revival of William Shakespeare's As You Like It, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Barbican Theatre in 1993; 'Celia' in Geraldine McEwan's revival of William Shakespeare's As You Like It at the Phoenix Theatre in 1988; 'La Presidente de Tourvel' in Howard Davies' production of Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos' Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Ambassadors Theatre in 1987; and the title role of 'Juliet', opposite Kenneth Branagh as 'Romeo', in Kenneth Branagh's revival of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at the Hammersmith Lyric Theatre in 1986.
Neil Pearson's West End theatre credits include 'Maarten' in Kevin Spacey Maria Goos' play Cloaca at the Old Vic Theatre in 2004; 'Colin' in Jeremy Sams' revival of Michael Frayn's Benefactors at the Albery Theatre in 2002; 'Marcel' in Peter Hall's production of Georges Feydeau's Mind Millie For Me at the Haymarket Theatre in 1996; and 'Hal' in Jonathan Lynn's revival of Joe Orton's Loot at the Ambassadors Theatre and Lyric Theatre in 1984.
Dan Stevens' West End stage credits include 'Nicky Lancaster' in Peter Hall's revival of Noel Coward's The Vortex at the Haymarket Theatre in 2008; and 'Simon Bliss' in Peter Hall's revival of Noel Coward's Hay Fever at the Haymarket Theatre in 2006.
Ed Stoppard's London stage credits include 'Tom Wingfield' in Rupert Goold's revival of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie at the Apollo Theatre in 2007; and the title role of 'Hamlet' in Stephen Unwin's revival of William Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Ambassadors Theatre in 2006.
"It takes effortless acting to illuminate Tom Stoppard's pyrotechnical wordplay and David Leveaux's production boasts several silkily precise, piercingly humane performances, including Ed Stoppard's sardonic, love-lorn mathematician, Valentine and Dan Stevens's languid, tragic tutor, Septimus Hodge. They highlight the play's gorgeous lament for the irretrievable achievements of previous generations and its celebration of the common pursuit of knowledge that joins those generations together." The London Metro
"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 4 June 2009, and closed on 12 September 2009.