Arcadia begins run Tuesday night

Arcadia has been dubbed one of the most brilliant plays of the 20th century and University of Lethbridge audiences will get their opportunity to experience it beginning Tuesday night. Arcadia, by Tom Stoppard, debuts at the University Theatre at 8 p.m. and runs through Saturday evening.

Part detective story, part love story, and part farcical comedy with mathematics, literature, landscape gardening and chaos theory thrown in, this intellectually demanding, emotionally satisfying, and delightfully entertaining play promises to give patrons a little bit of everything.

"I love this play," says director Brian Parkinson. "It's about ideas and relationships, the characters are complex and multifaceted, and the dialogue is incredibly witty, clever, and engaging. I'm also fascinated by how Stoppard manipulates the time, space and action."

Parkinson recalls taking his daughters to the play when they were in their mid-teens and having them discuss and recount the play for weeks after.

"It really made an impression," he says.

The play bounces back and forth between 1809 and the present at the elegant Coverly family estate. The 1809 scenes reveal a household in transition. The Arcadian landscape is being transformed into picturesque gothic gardens, and the 13-year-old Lady Thomasina and her tutor are delving into intellectual and romantic issues. The present day scenes depict the Coverly descendants and two competing scholars researching a possible scandal at the estate in 1809 using quite different methods.

"Arcadia really pokes fun at academia's need to reconstruct a history that is often wildly at odds with the truth," says Parkinson. "A lot of misrepresentations and misinterpretations get peeled away during the play."

Preparing as complex a play as Arcadia for the stage is a challenge. The cast of 12 had to refine British accents, work on intricate timing, and play well-rounded characters that aged from early teens to middle-age.

"The actors rose to the challenge and the experience will stand them in good stead in their future careers," says Parkinson.

Tickets for Arcadia (Mar. 31 through April 4, 8 p.m. nightly) are priced at $15 for regular admission and $10 student/senior. They are available at the U of L Box Office (403-329-2616).