This audible performance of Arcadia is very well acted and produced. My chief criteria for these audible plays are: (1) How closely does the performance stick to the script - i.e. have they omitted a significant portion of the dialog? (2) Sound quality: does it sound like they recorded a live stage performance with a microphone sitting on a corner of the stage, or was it recorded specifically for a listening audience? And do they use sound effects well?
On both accounts this is a high-quality production. It is also a charming, funny and intelligent play.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
A better quote/title for any review of this play would be 'What We Let Fall,' but since that was the partial title of the research paper I wrote on Arcadia for a graduate seminar back in the day, I figured I'd choose another for this one play that has it all: "Pigeons! Sex! Literature! Life and Death!" Stoppard's finest play (and probably the only one that will withstand the test of time and do well in revivals a century hence), unfortunately HAS to be seen to be appreciated, however. This isn't like the other plays I've reviewed here, wherein even a newcomer to the play can understand and fully appreciate the action without actually seeing it. I still cried like a baby at the conclusion on my way home this evening, when it was revealed who the Hermit of Sidley Park was and what caused him to go mad, retreat to the hermitage, and spend the rest of his life trying to prove out the theorem of a teenaged prodigy...but to take just the most stunning stage example, I was able to see that final scene--where the couple from the present dance "fluently," while the couple from the past dance "awkwardly," to quote from stage directions a first-time listener would never know--only because I've read and seen this play performed multiple times. It's possible such a listener wouldn't even know what was going on, especially toward the end, when scenes from the present begin to alternate with scenes from the past so rapidly that eventually they share the same stage simultaneously.
Do yourself a favor: See the play, and/or have the printed book handy, before you listen to this title. If you do that, you're in for a real treat.
Extra value can be had by listening to the interview with the Chaos Theory scientist at the end...and also by noticing that the actor playing Septimus Hodge sounds more like Kenneth Branagh than anyone else you've ever heard besides Kenneth Branagh!!
5 of 7 people found this review helpful
History, literature, science, gardening...a brilliant girl out of time and some lamebrained literary detective work. Stoppard at the top of his game, and a cast that includes Gregory Itzin, far from the evil Nixonian president he played on 24. You'll never hear the words "carnal embrace" again without giggling, just a little.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful
This dramatization is not quite the playwright's original text, but it takes some helpful artistic liberties that describe scenes and make the unspoken parts of the play flow easily within the dialogue. As far as the play, Stoppard is a master of transforming life's circumstances into math problems. He ruined statistical probability and chance in "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead." He bashed Zeno's Paradox and geometry in "Jumpers." Now thermodynamics and Mandelbrot's fractals fall victim to the wit and genius of Stoppard; telling his love stories and the tragi-comedic foibles of life through the ages, using sex as the chaotic "strange attractor" that ruins the Newtonian universe. I listened to this dramatization, then read the play, then listened again with even more enjoyment. A friend of mine listened to the dramatization before attending a recent performance in New York, and he said that the audio "preview" greatly enhanced his enjoyment of the play itself. Even if you don't know one thing about entropy or self-similarity, this rendition will provide a delightful brain-teaser.
3 of 5 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Arcadia again? Why?
What was one of the most memorable moments of Arcadia?
Thomasina to Septimus: "When you stir your rice pudding, Septimus, the spoonful of jam spreads itself round making red trails like the picture of a meteor in my astronomical atlas. But if you stir backward, the jam will not come together again. Indeed, the pudding does not notice and continues to turn pink just as before. Do you think this is odd?...".
What about the narrators’s performance did you like?
Clear enunciation in a conversational tone.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Any additional comments?
What did you love best about Arcadia?
What I loved most? Wow, I'd be hard pressed to say since the entire play is great. I could pinpoint a favorite line, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Thomasina, for sure. I've always imagined having a daughter like her. Something about a strong willed precocious female protagonist really draws me in.
Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
This was an ensemble cast rather than a single narrator.
Any additional comments?
I had to analyze this play for a class and I can't wait to listen to it again. The actors are superb and foley is spot on. I read this play while listening to it at the same time; there are very few liberties taken with stage direction, but the ones that were better served the listening experience.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful