Ar-can’t-get-enough-dia: Arcadia Review

The whole show was fantastic

Infinity delivers a moving, intellectually stimulating piece that explores issues of love and knowledge across two centuries.

The wonderful language and difficult conception of Tom Stoppard’s play was brought to life admirably by cast and crew of the production.

From the outset, the perception of Arcadia had been beautifully envisioned by director Vita Fox.

The stage was presented as end-on, with a minimalistic design. Windows and pillars depicted the majestic interior of Sidley Park Estate. The intricate detail of the main set piece, an elegantly long wooden table, stood as the continuing framework between the two periods of time. Lighting was used well, with colours being projected up the draped background walls to differentiate between times of day.

The lighting was perfect

Mirrored in excellence was the sound department’s contributions, including (but not limited to) gorgeous piano music that featured throughout. What’s more, Fox’s excellent casting choices proved a treat for the audience who were instantly entertained and captivated from the opening line.

“What is carnal embrace?” exclaims the young Thomasina, portrayed terrifically by Caitlin Edwards. Such a line could only be diffused with comedy, which Ciaran Cresswell as Septimus did with justice: the gesture and directness of mannerisms used here effortlessly created an air of sophistication and wit for the tutor’s character.

Sidley Park Estate was presented really well

The secrets within Sidley Park were chaotically presented through a number of key moments, from hilarious table-chasing routines to dramatic confrontations involving inhabitants, servants and guests in both periods of time.

Mia Jacobs as Lady Croom succeeded in majestically conveying the great poise in her character, particularly in her physicality on stage.

Everyone’s character was played really well

Grace Hussey Burd was fantastic in her multi-roling and displayed real confidence and professionalism throughout. Also noteworthy were Ed Loboda (Captain Edward Brice) and Ben Evans (Ezra Chater) in the manner of their portrayal as gentlemen of the period.

The shift between the two time periods the play encapsulates was subtle but clear, making both periods equally engaging. Catherine Butler captured the character of Hannah perfectly with her sharp gestures and movement. Her scenes with Bernard were particularly enjoyable, where she played the part of indifferent journalist with clear success.

"C'mon, Bacon is good for you"

‘C’mon, Bacon is good for you’

The merging of time periods around one table? Achieved!

The merging of time periods around one table? Achieved

Similarly commendable were the performances of Danny Hetherington and Connor Whitmore as Valentine and Gus Coverly. Danny’s interaction with other characters was effortlessly natural, whilst his comic timing (notably in a scene involving the feeding of a tortoise against the backdrop of a raging debate) was also impressive.

Connor’s facial expressions and physicality on stage worked well to nonverbally convey his clear adoration for Hannah. Ben Firth’s portrayal of Bernard in all his ecstatic irrationality went far in reinforcing the underlying tension that the play exudes throughout, which is probably why the gutsy, confident character of Chloe (Phoebe Cresswell) was drawn to him.

By the end of the show the characters’ costumes across the two time periods were beginning to subtly intertwine, becoming a reflective metaphor of the idea that love and knowledge are timeless.

Overall, the production was a pleasure to view, and was a real testament to the talent and dedication of students to Guild drama.

Huge congratulations to Vita, and to all involved.