Called “the greatest play of our age” by The Independent, Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia dances back and forth across the centuries, discussing time, truth, love, literature, heat, science, the differences between Classical and Romantic temperaments – and the disruptive influence of sex on all other things we know about life. Arcadia takes place in a single room on the Coverly estate in two separate times: the Regency period and the present. 1809 finds a household in transition, where an Arcadian English garden landscape is being uprooted to make way for picturesque Gothic gardens, complete with hermitage. Meanwhile, brilliant thirteen-year-old Lady Thomasina proposes a startling scientific theory that is only starting to be figured out more than 200 years later. In the present day, we find two competing scholars researching the world of the estate in the Regency Era. Hannah is intrigued by the identity of the hermit who inhabited the hermitage prescribed by the garden renovation, and Bernard has ideas about a bloody duel of passion that took place on the grounds, involving Lord Byron. What results is a play the New York Times called, “the perfect blend of brains and emotion, wit and heartache” in which everyone tries to puzzle over the meaning of the universe, and each, in his own way, is blindsided by the attraction that Newton left out of his equations.
Arcadia guide sections