Besides Shakespeare, Stoppard may very well be my favorite playwright. I am constantly amazed by his brilliance. I feel like each play he has written is a little gift just waiting to be opened, and then cherished. Arcadia is a wonderful play, working on many different levels of meaning, as is customary with Stoppard. I love the use of one room as the setting for all of the action.. it really gives one a sense of the history of the house watching the two different sets of people play out their lives, despite being in two different generations.
I hate when I discover great parts that I'm too old to play. Feels like finding an old love letter that was never opened and is now too late to act upon. Thomasina is one of those parts. Granted, when Jennifer Dundas did it at Lincoln Center, she was 24, but still.. I'm not getting my hopes up. The play is full of many wonderful characters - my favorites being Bernard in all his biting wit, and the turtles. Who doesn't love a good turtle? They're so cute, eating that lettuce.
The two women in the play that I had the least emotional response to - Hannah, and Lady Croom ended up having my two favorite lines. Lady Croom says nothing of importance for most of the play and then spouts out this beauty:
It is a defect of God's humour that he directs our hearts everywhere but to those who have a right to them.Hannah, a researcher, is tightly-wound and a bit stuffy. While discussing topics of study with Valentine, the oldest son of the household, she makes the observation:
It's all trivial - ... Comparing what we're looking for misses the point. It's wanting to know that makes us matter. Otherwise we're going out the way we came in.I think this applies to all of the characters in Arcadia. They are all searching for something - knowledge, love, recognition, fame.. and most get some or all of what they want. Stoppard takes religion, science, mathematics, love, and throws them all in the mix here, while managing to make the play a comedy. No mean feat.
Saturday Play-a-day: Miss Lilly Gets Boned by Bekah Brunstetter