'Arcadia' proves intelligent, colorful
Posted Oct. 13, 2006

Toying with parallelism between two completely different time periods with sophistication and intellect, Pomona College’s department of theater and dance presented “Arcadia,” a play written by Tom Stoppard, for three nights last week, Oct. 5 through 7.

The play takes place at a country house in Derbyshire, England.

“Arcadia” jumps from 1809 to 1990 with ease and draws more than one parallelism between the two ages.

The character of the play was very in-depth and I would just like to add that unless forewarned, the average audience member is not readily equipped with his or her intellectual thinking cap.

I was somewhat lost during the first 45 minutes of the three-hour performance and could see other people in the audience scratching their heads along with me.

After a little while it began to all make sense and I became fully engaged by the ideas, complex theories and oddities surrounding every aspect of the performance.

I am unsure whether the immediate confusion caused by it should be attributed to the playwright’s idealistic or realistic approach to his audience.

“Arcadia” begins with Thomasina Coverly, played by Caroline Almy, and her tutor Septimus Hodge, played by Alex London, discussing math.

Thomasina then takes it upon herself to find out the equation for living things.

Jellaby, played by Kevork Tutunjian, is the butler who Septimius confides in, telling him that he is in love with Thomasina’s mother, Lady Croom, played by Davi-Blue Bacich.

To get his mind off Lady Croom, Septimus has an affair.

Ezra Chater, played by Court Hoang, believes himself to be a great poet and writer, but Septimius does not.

When Ezra brings in Captain Brice, played by Jamie Boissevain, Septimius challenges Ezra to a duel.

James Cornish plays Richard Noakes, the landscaper remodeling Lady Croom’s garden.

He plans on plowing over her perfectly manicured lawn.

This is the main parallelism in the performance; the problems created when idealism and realism meet.

Noakes wants to create a beautifully abstract garden with feeling and spontaneity .

From this group, I admired Septimius Hodge, Thomasina Coverly and Ezra Chater’s performances.

London played Septimius with enough wit and humor that the seriousness behind his character was not lost.

Almy made her character of 13-year-old Thomasina completely believable in her simple, intelligent and indignant delivery.

The character of Ezra Chater was such a fool, he went from confused to angry to maddeningly happy every few moments.

I applauded Hoang’s honest and creative portrayal of the character.

Jumping forward to 1990, Bernard Nightingale, played by Vincent Selhorst-Jones, is a writer and lecturer looking for Lord Byron’s participation in the lives of the 1809 characters.

His character comes to antagonize Hannah Jarvis, played by Natasha Gleichmann, another writer with an interest in history and archeology.

She has recently published a book describing her opinion of the garden, people and story of 1809.

As these two theorists clash, the other characters come out of the woodwork.

Valentine Coverly, played by Tyrus Emory, is a gifted young man.

He has the ability to work out any scientific or mathematical problems easily, yet is inept when it comes to all types of social skills.

His brother Gus Coverly, played by Daniel Zucker, is also a genius, but cannot bring himself to speak around other people, usually running away when spoken to.

Megan Hanley plays the last sibling, Chloe Coverly, an average romantic young girl, who seeks to appear just as intelligent as her brothers.

When Bernard trusts his gut instincts and publishes what he believes to be a true account of what happened in 1809, Hannah is able to rebuke him with her factual evidence to the contrary.

Valentine becomes interested in the discussion and ends up using his skills to prove old Thomasina’s mathematical theory true.

Gus becomes interested in Hannah and Chloe falls for Bernard.

From this group, the characters Bernard Nightingale, Hannah Jarvis and Valentine Coverly stood out to me.

Selhorst-Jones played Bernard remarkably well.

Everything — his speech, personality and behavior — went with the character perfectly and he did a fantastic job of making the dislikable character of Bernard believable.

However, Gleichmann’s character of Hannah was played rather dryly.

Yes, she was representing a realistic approach but she was too boring and factual.

Yet Valentine Coverly was masterfully played by Emory.

His deliveries were a perfect combination of nerdy, intelligent and downright funny conversation.

The costumes used to represent the 1809 era were also vibrant and colorful, another completely together aspect of the play.

Towards the end of the performance, actors from both time periods were on the stage at the same time, finishing each other’s sentences while discussing the romantic and realistic sides of each story, drawing a dancing in the dark parallelism.

Lilia Cabello can be reached at lcabello@ulv.edu.

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