Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

‘Arcadia’: Time Traveling Through Romance

    For those interested in viewing time and space through multiple perspectives, look no further
    than “Arcadia.”

    The show premiered at Seattle Public Theater this weekend at the Green Lake Bathhouse. Written by Tom Stoppard, “Arcadia” narrates two stories, one set in the early 19th century, in conjunction with the other, set in present day.

    The play takes place in Sidley Park, a country house in England with one timeline following the Croom Estate as it exists in 1809 and the other following present day researchers trying to piece together the history of the manor.

    Director Kelly Kitchens describes the play as waltz-like, “balancing the thinking and feeling equation at play.” “Arcadia” does require the audience to balance the shifts in time but attempts to do so in an artful way. By going back and forth between the periods in each scene, the audience is able to follow the history of Sidley Park and enjoy the story of the characters attempting to figure out the manor for themselves.

    Hannah Jarvis (Alyson Scadron Branner) is a researcher looking for information on a hermit who used to live at Sidley Park. When Bernard Nightingale (Evan Whitfield), an academic who has disputed Jarvis’ past studies, appears on the scene, the two are eventually forced to work together to discover the history of the residence and its historical significance.

    In the past, Thomasina Coverly girl genius, (Izabel Mar) attempts to discover an equation that will predict natural phenomena as we understand it today. Thomasina is the youngest of the house and stays at Sidley Park to study science and the arts. Her tutor Septimus Hodge (Trevor Young Marston), a young academic, has been caught up in his own misjudgments, but continues to try and educate Thomasina as the Coverly’s see fit.

    Kitchens describes how components to the waltz, such as time signature, tempo and key, all shift when musicians find their own unique interpretation. “It matters very much whom you are dancing with,” she said, in explaining how the cast came together to make the play work with their unique perspectives on each character.

    “Arcadia” is all about interpretation throughout its 2 hour 15 minute running time. As Jarvis and Nightingale attempt to interpret the past, the audience is able to interpret the dramatic irony of the overall story by viewing both past and present.

    The play comments on how people are able to interpret history and illustrates the limitations to our understandings. It demonstrates the spectrum of reasons that people look into history, which ranges from informing the public to seeking fame and acknowledgment. “Arcadia” also reveals many romantic themes, with the characters entering in to all sorts of romantic relationships (some more scandalous than others), aiming to keep the audience on its toes.

    This is a drama that runs at a moderate pace, and if you are looking for fast-paced action, you would be wise to look elsewhere. The play’s music production is originally composed by Adam Stern, conductor of the Seattle Philharmonic, bringing a serious and stern tone to the entire production. The cast is a great lineup of actors from around the Seattle area who come together to create a fine performance of “Arcadia.” Costume designer Chelsea Cook does a fantastic job of creating attire for all characters, and Mar plays her role of Thomasina with complete poise and grace.

    “Arcadia” is overall very well done, and the cast and crew deserve a lot of credit for their hard work and dedication. The cast effectively tells a story of romance, history and science with attention paid to each and every detail, leading to an exceptional performance albeit slow-paced.

    “Arcadia is a dance of connections, both missed and attained, of articles, objects and desires lost and found,” Kitchens said.

    The show is like a waltz, which differs from other shows which have moved on to invent newer, more innovative dances that capture the attention of the modern public. If you enjoy classic theater with romantic themes and witty comedy, then go to “Arcadia.” Plus, if you like the small-town theater style of Green Lake Bathhouse, it is strongly likely that will also enjoy the show.

    “Arcadia” plays through June 8 at Seattle Public Theater. Tickets range from $15 to $30.

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    Joe Ignoffo, Author

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