Time takes the spotlight in “Arcadia”

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Courtesy Photo.

Albert Einstein once remarked that, “the only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen all at once.” In Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia,” currently being staged at the Grossmont College’s Stagehouse Theatre, time is put to the test as the lines between the past and present and science and emotion become blurred.

Albert Einstein once remarked that, “the only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen all at once.” In Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia,” currently being staged at the Grossmont College’s Stagehouse Theatre, time is put to the test as the lines between the past and present and science and emotion become blurred.

The play is set in Sidley Park, a fictional country estate in Derbyshire, England and alternates between two different time periods. In the present day, writer Hannah Jarvis (Symonne Still) and Bernard Nightingale (Kevin Rupe), a professor of literature, have come to investigate old rumors associated with the house. Jarvis seeks to uncover the truth behind the stories of a legendary hermit who was once lived on the grounds and Nightingale is deep into his research on the poet Lord Byron, who was once a guest at the estate.

Other scenes take place in 1809, a time of transition where the methodology and reason of the Enlightenment era are giving way to the emotional and imaginative period of Romanticism. Here we are introduced to some of the previous occupants of the house including Thomasina Coverly (Sofia Scafidi), an ingeniously bright 13-year-old who has notions on theories in mathematics that are well ahead of her time, and her tutor Septimus Hodge (James Allen). The two wax poetic on mathematics, science, and philosophy, all the while dealing with the antics of the other colorful members of the household.

While at times a bit verbally dense, especially in the monologues dealing with mathematics and philosophy, “Arcadia” is overall an entertaining and fascinating literary mystery.

As is always the case with Stagehouse Theatre Productions, the cast is splendid. Scafidi is superb as Thomasina, giving a playfully witty performance that brings the character to life.

Allen is great as well, playing Septimus Hodge as not only a man of reason and science, but also one of heart.

As the two leads in the scenes set in the present day, Rupe and Still are excellent, playing off each other well. Rupe can play any emotion at the drop of a hat, one second he is as charming as can be, the next he is a pretentious jerk who has made a complete ass of himself. Still is even better as Jarvis, giving a passionate performance that pulls the audience in.

Other standouts include the commanding Jon Agee as the cuckolded poet Ezra Chater, the lovely Kenzie Damata as the young Chole Coverly, who finds herself becoming sexually attracted to Nightingale, and the amazing Kristian Power as the hotheaded and sarcastic Valentine Coverly. Recognition must also be given to the marvelous scenic design by Craig Everett and his team of creative carpenters. Their impeccable attention to detail and expert craftsmanship truly bring the story to life.

“Arcadia” serves as the first production of Stagehouse Theatre’s 2018-2019 season, and if it is any indication, it is going to be one hell of a run. Upcoming performances of “Arcadia” are on October 11, 12, and 13 at 7:30 p.m. and October 6 and 13 at 2:00 p.m.

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