GET ready to skip back and forth across the centuries with Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia at Harbour Theatre.
Directed by Barry Park, the play takes place in a single room on the Coverly Estate in two separate times ¬– the Regency period and 1989.
In 1809, the household is in transition, where an Arcadian English garden landscape is being uprooted to make way for picturesque Gothic gardens, complete with a hermitage.
Meanwhile, the brilliant 13-year-old Lady Thomasina proposes a startling scientific theory that is only starting to be understood more than 200 years later.
In 1989, two competing scholars research the 1809 world of the estate and are intrigued by who lived in the hermitage and a possible bloody duel of passion.
Winning the 1993 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play, Arcadia was named by the Royal Institution of Great Britain in 2006 as one of the best science-related works ever written.
“Arcadia is a fascinating play that discusses time, truth, love, literature, science and the differences between Classical and Romantic temperaments,” Barry said.
“It also focuses on the disruptive influence of sex on all other things we know about life.”
The play has several set, lighting and costuming challenges.
“Mark Nicholson is designing and constructing an imposing, enormous set that represents a large room in a grand English country house that will fill the vast space in the cavernous theatre,” Barry said.
“He is also planning subtle lighting changes to differentiate between the scenes set in 1809 and 1989.
“Accomplished costume designer Merri Ford is creating Regency and modern costumes for seven scenes for the cast of 12.
“Our stage managers are sourcing antique furniture and dozens of modern and antique props, including a rabbit, a tortoise and a theodolite.”
Involved in theatre since the 1970s, Barry has directed many award-winning plays – his most recent successes have been The Boys in the Band, August: Osage County, Present Laughter, A View from the Bridge, Other Desert Cities and Design for Living.
As an actor, he has performed in dozens of plays, musicals, pantomimes, films, radio plays and television in Salisbury, Cape Town, Edinburgh, London and Perth.
“I have wanted to direct Arcadia for many years because it’s one of Stoppard’s many clever, witty plays with intellectual appeal that tugs at the heart as well as the mind, representing a pinnacle in his brilliant career,” Barry said.
“It’s a play that is a favourite with literature students and reviewers have hailed it as Stoppard’s greatest play.
“Arcadia provides exciting acting challenges and I’m delighted to be working with a group of accomplished and experienced actors who will bring these intriguing characters to life.”
Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia plays at 7.30pm May 28, 29, June 2, 4, 5, 9, 11 and 12 with 2pm matinees May 30, June 6 and 13. Tickets are $25.50, $23.50 concession and $20.50 students – book at www.TAZTix.com.au or call TAZTix on 9255 3336.
Harbour Theatre is located at 16 Lochee Street, Mosman Park.