Tom Stoppard’s 1993 play Arcadia was a Laurence Olivier Award-winning hit when it premiered at the National Theatre under the direction of Trevor Nunn, subsequently transferring to the West End and Broadway. Now, the playwright’s son Ed Stoppard appears in a major new production of Arcadia at the Duke of York’s theatre, in a stellar cast that also contains Neil Pearson, Samantha Bond and Dan Stevens.
Arcadia begins in April 1809 in a stately home in Derbyshire. Thomasina, a gifted pupil, proposes a startling theory, beyond her comprehension. All around her, the adults, including her tutor Septimus, are preoccupied with secret desires, illicit passions and professional rivalries. Two hundred years later, academic adversaries Hannah and Bernard are piecing together puzzling clues, curiously recalling those events of 1809, in their quest for an increasingly elusive truth.
Arcadia playwright Stoppard is one of the UK’s foremost contemporary writers, whose numerous plays include Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, The Coast Of Utopia, The Invention Of Love, Jumpers, Hapgood, The Real Inspector Hound, Night And Day, Travesties, After Magritte and Rock ‘N’ Roll.
His son, Ed Stoppard, has previously been seen on a London stage playing Hamlet at the New Ambassadors theatre, plus On The Rocks and The Glass Menagerie.
Bond, who plays Hannah in Arcadia, is well known for playing Miss Moneypenny in the Pierce Brosnan-era James Bond films. On stage she has appeared in Donkeys’ Years, A Woman Of No Importance, Macbeth, Amy’s View and Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
Pearson (Bernard) has been seen in Uncle Vanya, Old Times and Cloaca in London, and has television credits including Drop The Dead Donkey, Between The Lines and the forthcoming All The Small Things.
Stevens (Septimus) came to prominence on the screen in The Line Of Beauty and Sense And Sensibility, while his burgeoning stage career includes the recent productions of Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, The Vortex and Hay Fever.
The cast of Arcadia is directed by David Leveaux, who has previously directed Stoppard’s Jumpers and The Real Thing in London. He is as well known on Broadway as he is in the West End, having directed productions including Cyrano De Bergerac, The Glass Menagerie, Fiddler On the Roof, Betrayal, Anna Christie and Electra on the Great White Way.
For more about Arcadia at the Duke of York’s theatre read our First Night Feature.