Arcadia is first set in April 1809 at an elegant English country estate. Thomasina, a gifted pupil, proposes a startling theory well beyond her comprehension. All around her, the adults, including her tutor Septimus, are preoccupied with secret desires, illicit passions and professional rivalries. Two hundred years later, academic adversaries Hannah and Bernard are piecing together puzzling clues, curiously recalling those events of 1809 in their quest for an increasingly elusive truth.
This is my second go-round with Arcadia by Tom Stoppard. I saw it at Lincoln Center about eight or nine years ago, and I remember looking around and noticing that I was the only one who was awake. You really do have to pay attention. But I liked it really as well the second time as the first. Different cast. This has got Billy Crudup, Grace Gummer Meryl Streep’s daughter who looks just like her — she probably hates that — Raul Esparza and Margaret Colin. All of them are really terrific, but you do have to pay attention. It’s a long play and it probably be a little shorter, but at least he takes on important things like history and memory and love and lust and all with a sense of humor. I must admit that this show got a little longer than it should have been because somebody had a heart attack in the audience and it was amazing how slow people are to respond to that, but nonetheless, it does give you a feeling that life is short and fleeting and you should make the best of it whenever you can. I’d give it three and a half stars.