Monday, April 04, 2011
On the other hand, Arcadia, by Tom Stoppard, was thrilling and delightful. A real play, by a real playwright. A challenging, witty, ambitious and very engaging work, even if I cannot claim I grasp it in its entirety (I need to get my hands on the text). Ben Brantley's complaints about lack of intelligibility seem to have been addressed. David Leveaux's direction is beautifully paced and very smart. The cast is quite impressive, gliding through extremely challenging (and some gorgeous) speeches quite effortlessly. They all seem like they know what they are talking about in terms of Latin, mathematics and other arcana, which is already an accomplishment. The American actors acquit themselves decently with their British accents and everybody is quite good. In particular I liked Tom Riley, Raul Esparza and Margaret Colin. I was partial to the characters in the story set in the past, since the ones set in modern times, except for Esparza, were hamming it a bit too much. Billy Crudup and Lia Williams are seasoned actors but I wonder why they feel they have to mug so much. The one thing I missed, was the sense of love and passion beneath all that intellect. They all talk about it, but it is not much in evidence. Is this because they are British, or because they are so busy with the intellectual fireworks that they forget the fire in the loins? I don't know. Still, the entire experience is bracing, a fabulous mental workout and in the end, deeply moving, and very beautiful.