“Arcadia” in a Great Small Theater in Seattle

Landscape, mathematics, chaos theory, grouse, data, fractals, history, waltzes, curiosity, charts, place, time, algorithms, leaves, literature, Lord Byron and a tortoise named alternatively Plautus and Lightning. These all flow together in a profound and delightful play, Arcadia from the pen of Tom Stoppard, one of our favorite playwrights. Name ring a bell? Try Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, possibly his best-known work…

On the small stage at The Bathhouse at Greenlake, director, cast and crew of Seattle Public Theater (SPT) delivered on their goal of “Great Theater Up Close”. The play takes place at Sidley Park, an English manor during a few days’ span in 1809 and, alternately, a few days’ span in the present day where two sparring scholars are looking back to sort out what took place in, yes, 1809. One is seeking the identity of a hermit thought to be in residence at “the hermitage” on the manor and one in search of Lord Byron and proof that he’d not only been a guest, but was triumphant in a duel at the manor. The play largely alternates between these periods, but just past halfway through, the 19th century characters, a few years older (now in 1812) take the stage with those of the present day, dialog continues seamlessly between characters of their own period, neither set aware that they are sharing time and space with people from a different era.

Because this is Tom Stoppard, along with references to science, mathematics and chaos theory, there are references to history, geography, art and literature (Plautus, our 19th century turtle, likely takes his name from a Roman playwright whose works are thought to represent the earliest surviving examples of comedic Latin literature, and “Arcadia” is a region in Greece. During the Renaissance it was thought of as wilderness: unspoiled and harmonious.) Also because this is Tom Stoppard there is much to think about as well as laugh about presented through quick witty dialog–a challenge to actors and audience alike. The SPT production team and performers were up to the task.

Thanks to Seattle Public Theater (SPT) at The Bathhouse for a wonderful production of Arcadia. All involved in bringing this play to us put the proof to their tag line and goal: “Great Theater Up Close”. Thanks to the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation for providing a location for SPT, The Bathhouse at Greenlake which makes for a great intimate small theater venue and thanks to my sister, Donna and brother-in-law, Ruben, for taking us there for our birthday outing.

Arcadia is running at Seattle Public Theater at the Bathhouse through June 8…I highly recommend checking it out! This is an outstanding performance of a smart, thought-provoking and witty play.

SPT is seeking to raise $4,000.00 which will be matched by way of the 2014 Cultural Facilities Grant from the City of Seattle. The goal is for some needed upgrades to the stage. Our recent experience there demonstrated a wealth of talent worth supporting. Funds to help them improve their stage is just what they need. We so enjoyed the direction, stage set and acting that we did contribute to the coffers on our way out the door. We look forward to seeing more great theater in this small venue!

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