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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
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
While this witty and erudite play text provides both entertainment and intellectual challenge, problems with the production rather spoiled my enjoyment.
What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)
This isn't really relevant to a drama text.
What aspect of the narrators’s performance might you have changed?
Well, this isn't an audiobook, but an audio production of a play, so there are multiple voices. Here lies my main problem. As a UK listener, I could not suspend my disbelief in the English accents of some of the American actors playing British roles. They weren't terrible, and a US listener might not have a problem with this aspect of the performance. However, it is not just a matter of pronunciation or vowel sounds. Sentences were stressed in an unidiomatic way, and meaning was sometimes lost.There are some complex mathematical and intellectual ideas presented here, so clarity of meaning is important.
The play is split into two time frames, that of the 18th century juxtaposed with a modern setting. It seems to me that the actors chosen for the 18th century sections were native Brits (or if not, American actors with impeccable accents and delivery.) The contemporary sections are voiced with American actors who can't quite get it right. The production also sounds under-rehearsed in the contemporary sections, with some rather emotionally unvaried performances.
There are also some visual effects which are hard to reproduce in audio format, which could have been edited out.
I have listened to many LA Theatre Works offerings and they are generally excellent. Even the Ayckbourn plays with mixed US/British casts are almost completely convincing. This was a disappointment.
Was Arcadia worth the listening time?
Not entirely. This is a stimulating but complex text which is nearly 3 hours in length. It needs better acting and direction in parts to justify the committment from the listener.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I was a little reluctant to listen based on previous reviews about the accents of the American actors. I eventually bought it as I wanted to hear a dramatic performance and found it on the whole an enjoyable experience. You would have to be very picky to find the accents annoying so if you are doubtful like I was then go for it and don't be put off.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful