I do love Stoppard. He’s quite witty, like Wilde, but he makes you work for it. Arcadia is enjoying a short run on Broadway, and I went saw it with a couple of friends last week. The cast was superb. In lesser hands,
“Augustus: You are not my tutor, sir. I am visiting your lesson by my free will.
Septimus: If you are so determined, my lord.” (2.7)
would not have wrung a laugh, but with subtle emphasis Tom Riley (Septimus) helped us catch an allusion to the debate between free will and predetermination. Bel Powley also pulled a stellar performance as the young genius Thomasina who attempts to relate abstract science and math to her temporal world.
“When you stir your rice pudding, Septimus, the spoonful of jam spreads itself round making red trails like the picture of a meteor in my astronomical atlas. But if you stir backward, the jam will not come together again. Indeed, the pudding does not notice and continues to turn pink just as before…You can’t stir things apart.” (1.1)
This is not a fluffy, I’m-exhausted-from-work-and-just-want-to-sit-and-laugh-my-head-off show, but if you like entertainment that makes you think I suggest you hurry and get tickets while there are still tickets to be had. This is a wonderful interpretation of one of Stoppard’s finest plays.