bookshelves: classic, fraudio, play-dramatisation
Read in January, 2009
Tom Stoppard - Arcadia - BBC Drama 1993 (2.33.24) 64 kbps
Blurb: ARCADIA is Stoppard's acknowledged masterpiece, a scintillating play in which - as in IN THE NATIVE STATE - present day researchers seek to find the truth about people and events from a former time - in this case, about 200 years earlier.
It was broadcast by Radio 3 in the year of its first performance at the National theatre, 1993. The action displays both past and present, opening in 1808 before switching to the 1990s. The listener learns the truth of both eras, but, predictably, the modern researchers construct a false picture of the past, which gathers sufficient momentum to displace the true one. Most of the characters are exceptionally intelligent and erudite and their dialogue matches - indeed, defines - their intellectual stature.
David Benedictus' production has the same cast as that of the National's staging: Felicity Kendal, Bill Nighy and Samuel West as the moderns, and Rufus Sewell, Emma Fielding and Harriet Walter as the 19th century georgians. All are predictably excellent, especially Harriet Walter as the bird-brained, opinionated mother and Emma Fielding as her gifted, doomed daughter.