Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia merges science with human concerns and ideals, examining the universe’s influence in our everyday lives and ultimate fates through relationship between past and present, order and disorder and the certainty of knowledge. Set in an English country house in the year 1809-1812 and 1989, the play examines the lives of two modern scholars and the house's current residents with the lives of those who lived there 180 years earlier.
©2009 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2009 L.A. Theatre Works
This audible performance of Arcadia is very well acted and produced. My chief criteria for these audible plays are: (1) How closely does the performance stick to the script - i.e. have they omitted a significant portion of the dialog? (2) Sound quality: does it sound like they recorded a live stage performance with a microphone sitting on a corner of the stage, or was it recorded specifically for a listening audience? And do they use sound effects well?
On both accounts this is a high-quality production. It is also a charming, funny and intelligent play.
History, literature, science, gardening...a brilliant girl out of time and some lamebrained literary detective work. Stoppard at the top of his game, and a cast that includes Gregory Itzin, far from the evil Nixonian president he played on 24. You'll never hear the words "carnal embrace" again without giggling, just a little.
This dramatization is not quite the playwright's original text, but it takes some helpful artistic liberties that describe scenes and make the unspoken parts of the play flow easily within the dialogue. As far as the play, Stoppard is a master of transforming life's circumstances into math problems. He ruined statistical probability and chance in "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead." He bashed Zeno's Paradox and geometry in "Jumpers." Now thermodynamics and Mandelbrot's fractals fall victim to the wit and genius of Stoppard; telling his love stories and the tragi-comedic foibles of life through the ages, using sex as the chaotic "strange attractor" that ruins the Newtonian universe. I listened to this dramatization, then read the play, then listened again with even more enjoyment. A friend of mine listened to the dramatization before attending a recent performance in New York, and he said that the audio "preview" greatly enhanced his enjoyment of the play itself. Even if you don't know one thing about entropy or self-similarity, this rendition will provide a delightful brain-teaser.
I thought that the narrators were, for the most part, great.
I had not read this play before so I was not familiar with the story at all. Therefore, I remained very confused about what the story was about. I couldn't keep track of the characters and their roles, and I kind of lost interest as it wasn't what I was expecting, leading me to replay scenes as my ears turned out. It could be that these types of plays are just not for me.
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