The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
October 6, 7, 8 & 9, 1999.
by Tom Stoppard
1809 – 12
Lucy Tickner – Thomasina Coverly
Jim Calderwood – Septimus Hodge
David Goodger – Jellaby
Rols Ham-Riche – Ezra Chater
Kevin Isaac – Richard Noakes
Derek Fraser – Captain Brice
Judith Berrill – Lady Croom
Tom Griffiths – Augusta Coverly
The present day
Katie Brownings – Hannah Jarvis
David Creedon – Bernard Nightingale
John Garland – Valentine Coverly
Hannah Collis – Chloe Coverly
Tom Griffiths – Gus Coverly
Assistant Director – John Garland
Stage Manager – Marc Lewis
Assistant Stage Manager – Jean Porter
Lighting – Mike Medway
Sound control – Rob Stuckey
Set Building – David Comber
Set Building – Dave Collis
Set Building – Brian Box
Set Building – Mike Davy
Set Building – Marc Lewis
Set Building – Mark Flower
Set Painter – Sheila Neesham
Set Painter – Frances Thorne
Properties – Sue Whittaker
Properties – Margaret Davy
Costume – Margaret Faggetter
Costume – Judith Berrill
Costume – Adrian Kenward
Press & Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Press & Publicity – Frances Thorne
Press & Publicity – Rosemary Brown
Design & Graphics – Judith Berrill
Box Office – Margaret Murrell
Front of House Manager – David Pierce
Front of House Manager – Betty Dawes
Front of House Manager – Mark Flower
Programme Note #1: Arcadia
BR wrote “When Arcadia opened in 1993, an extremely rare thing happened – audiences and critics were at once convinced they were witnessing a new play which was going to rank among the classics of world theatre. So far that judgment has held up, ‘officially’, with Arcadia shooting effortlessly into the pop charts of English and Drama syllabuses around the globe.
What makes it so special? Probably a combination of things. There is an extraordinary range of ideas and ‘movements’ – the science of creation and the chaos of the natural world, the order of classicism and the inspired disorder of romanticism – just to be going on with. But all this clever stuff is presented in perfect theatrical form, through great characters caught up in a fascinating story line – or two related story lines, as the events of the past and the present continually intertwine. And then there is the sheer dexterity of the language and the comedy which Tom Stoppard uses to create both high entertainment and serious emotion.
And it’s the element of emotion, perhaps, that puts Arcadia onto a new level of achievement among Tom Stoppard’s works. To enjoy Rosencrantz and Guilderstern Are Dead, or Jumpers, or Travesties, it’s not necessary to feel particularly involved in the feelings of the central characters. But with Arcadia, we are drawn closely into caring about the future of Thomasina and Septimus, for example, and about Hannah’s gradual piecing-together of the truth about their lost lives. Stoppard’s plays were once accused of being full of wit and short on ‘heart’. Arcadia has both, in plenty. Along with his subsequent 1997 play The Invention of Love (about the poet and scholar A E Houseman) it sets a new high water mark.”
Publicity #1: Arcadia
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: September 16 1999 issue – page 14
Text Header: “Race now on for hare and tortoise”
FINDING suitable props for Wick Theatre Company’s latest production is turning out to be quite a problem. In Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, not only does the action switch to and from the early 19th Century to the present day, requiring props to match each era, but a pet tortoise is also required to act as a link between past and present. As a real live one wouldn’t be practical, a hunt is on to find a realistic fake.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the final item on the list is a dead rabbit – yet another headache for a harassed props person.
If anyone thinks they may be able to help with either fake animal, telephone 01273 771244.
Arcadia runs from October 6 to 9 at the Barn Theatre Southwick.
Review #1: Arcadia
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: October 14 1999 issue – page 18
Reviewer: – Stephen Critchett
Text Header: “Praiseworthy stab at pretentious”
THIS lavish production will delight fans of Stoppard’s work, but sadly will do little to win over any new converts. Acadia only became available for amateur performance earlier this year and Wick Theatre Company have ambitiously staged one of the first productions outside of London.
The action takes place in a stately home between the era of Jane Austen and the present day with the characters taking us through a mixture of romance, detective story, comedy and tear-jerker. A highly talented cast, brilliant set design and lively performances unfortunately were all wasted on a near three-hour trek through an overly complex and pretentious work, which would have had the most learned academic yearning to watch a particularly slow-paced East Enders episode.
The plot was sometimes totally unfathomable as there were far too many ideas jostling for room in the play. In Arcadia, time moves forwards and backwards and the witty dialogue, although superbly delivered and injected with as much emotion as the performers as it would allow, became akin to undertaking a mental assault course. Stoppard’s tale aims to be so clever and impossibly witty that the viewer is made to feel embarrassed at their own lack of intellect for failing to comprehend it fully.
I admire the company for staging such a play. But it is a work which will mean a great deal to a select number of people and sadly not very much to the rest of us.
Review #2: Arcadia
Publication: Wick News
Publication Data: November 1999
Reviewer: Patrick Johnson
My mother was a woman of very few words, which, as far as I was concerned, was very good thing, as most of what she said to me was disparaging. She saw me, in general, as someone who, to quote from Rattigan’s French Without Tears, had idees as dessus de son gare. Put-downs such as ‘too clever by half’, ‘too big for your boots’, or ‘smarty pants’ winged my way. But her most effective weapon was a simple syllable – ‘hunh’. It spoke volumes.
When I first heard of the proposed production of Arcadia, of which I had heard rave reviews, I acquired a copy and read it through. Now I have not acquired my mothers gift for the terse and worse, but my immediate reaction was ‘hunh’! Tom, you’re too clever by half, you smarty pants, you!
I read the play at least three times more, with a little more comprehension seeping through each time, but I still found it full of problems. With such dense writing I found it hard to keep track of who was saying what, and going back to check broke my hold on whatever argument was frying my brain. In trying to absorb all the intellectual pyrotechnics I completely lost any sense of what was happening to these seriously intelligent people who wouldn’t stop talking. So I rather dismissed the play as a showy attempt to put several arcane textbooks on to the stage which had failed to breathe life into characters.
It was with a little surprise that I found myself succumbing to Rosemary’s blandishments when she suggested that I should do a review of the production. As you can imagine I was a little apprehensive as to how the evening would turn out, but let me say straight away that I enjoyed myself very much. Listening to people putting across the ideas and watching the development of their characters made the play come alive in a way I hadn’t really expected.
I liked the uncluttered set. It worked so well that I soon forgot about it which is what I think should happen. Similarly the lighting and sound effects kept the places in the background. The ‘working light’ effect for the scene changes was a good idea. We didn’t peer into the dark and wonder if someone would drop something or fall over in the dark. But, once the actors took their places, I felt the lights should have come straight up and the play could have carried on without another blackout. We knew they were ready and were impatient by the delay.
And the acting? I believed in all the characters: nobody gave the impression of just saying lines and the interplay between the cast made for a presentation of real people living their loves before us.
The downside? I had to work hard to hear what was being said by some of the cast, particularly when they were upstage. It is difficult for the ear to adjust from one volume to another. This is something that familiarity with the script can cover up but the audience doesn’t have that advantage. It also covers up the problems of pace. If people race through their speeches it may not be noticed if you know the play but the poor audience when faced with a poorly projected gabble of words is left floundering. For me, even with my slight knowledge of the play these problems of varying projection and pace detracted from what was otherwise a good production of a difficult play.