Arcadia is set in one location, a country house named Sidley Park, but in two different times, the early nineteenth century and the late twentieth, with two sets of characters who never meet but interact through books, poems and jottings in an exercise book. Scenes alternate between the two different time, without any changes to the scenery; one set of characters walks off and the other walks on.

The nineteenth century scenes are largely based around the relationship between Thomasina Coverly and her tutor, Septimus Hodge. He is trying to teach her about mathematics, particularly Fermat’s last theorem, but she is more interested in sex and love. In the twentieth century, researcher Bernard Nightingale comes upon notes from the earlier period and becomes convinced that Lord Byron was involved in a scandal there. The play then switches back and forth between the two centuries, giving us more information about what happened until we find out the whole story. Or do we?

Anyone who likes Stoppard will appreciate this production; it is enjoyable and thought-provoking. As usual for Stoppard, there is no straightforward narrative and concentration is required on the part of the audience. Well worth a visit.

Reviews by Alan Chorley

History Boys

★★★★

Dracula

★★

Cherry Orchard

★★★★

Azincourt

★★★★

Secret Garden

★★★★

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Performances

The Blurb

Catapulting the audience back and forth between centuries, Tom Stoppard explores the nature of truth and time, the order of romance and the chaos of sex. From the Oxford University Dramatic Society, now in its 203rd year.

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