Arcadia on Broadway
Posted: March 3, 2011 Filed under: ambiguous, theater
>During the play, I kept thinking to myself: “I could say on Facebook that the play is performed with much vigor.” This says a few things, I think. It mostly says something unpleasant about the way I–or maybe we–have begun thinking about our experiences: as status updates. It also says something about the play, or perhaps more specifically, my reaction to it. That I was not engaged.
Something about Tom Stoppard’s work is beyond me. I find his plays extremely frustrating. I am not a stupid person, but I can never understand what is going on in them. I literally cannot understand their plots. Two hours into it and I am still wondering why any of this matters? I go to Wikipedia to figure them out. I always feel like his characters are frozen in the space of the play, and when it ends, they will also end. They never feel like real people to me. So…the tutor is really the hermit, after all? And he gets embarrassed in the newspaper? That’s it?
The most exciting moment for me came when Hodge, the tutor, sets a letter on fire and places it on a silver tray where it burns away to ash during his conversation with Lady Croom. Real Fire!! I wanted the letter to catch the whole table ablaze, and the actors to go screaming into the wings and we’d all trample each other to get to the doors. I don’t really want this to happen. But I wanted something more exciting than what was happening on stage. (Is this unfair of me?)
All this said, the actor’s are really performing with much vigor. Billy Crudup is doing his cocky/smart/charming/asshole thing he’s really good at, Raúl Esparza is doing the brooding miserable thing he put to perfect, brilliant, transformative use in John Doyle’s 2006 revival of Company…only in a more lazy way here. Bel Powley, as Thomasina, is so marvelously fun to watch–funny and sharp and honest and generous. The rest of them are, well, fine. At several points, you get a sense that the actor’s weren’t given much blocking and are asked to just wander around and indicate their own frustration through their physicality.
Oh well, can’t win ’em all.