REVIEW: Arcadia

Oxford Opening Night

reviewed by Hannah Greenstreet 

Tom Stoppard is in Oxford this week as Visiting Professor of Drama. At a Q&A with Dame Hermione Lee, he commented that he has ‘very little curiosity in revisiting [his] plays in [revival] productions’, as ‘I like to be looking forward rather than backward’. He elaborated, ‘my plays are full of references to things and people in common currency. Things are trapped in time and place and don’t move on.’

This is one of the problems with Fox Tale Productions’ revival of Arcadia. In the twenty-three years since it was first staged, Arcadia has come to seem dated. Fermat’s last theorem, a symbol for the main philosophical problem of the play (the relationship of nature with mathematics), has been solved. Despite its clever construction of interlocking times and its musings on academic discoveries, the play does not make any urgent points. The time lag attendant…

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