Tom Stoppard’s hit comedy, Arcadia, comes to Waterside Theatre

Dakota Blue Richards in English Touring Theatre's Arcadia. Photo Mark Douet .
Dakota Blue Richards in English Touring Theatre’s Arcadia. Photo Mark Douet .

It’s been more than 20 years since Tom Stoppard’s comedy masterpiece, Arcadia, has been seen by regional audiences but English Touring Theatre’s new production has been met, once again, with critical acclaim.

Directed by Blanche McIntyre, Arcadia comes to Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre next week.

Dakota Blue Richards makes her stage debut as Thomasina, with other cast including Kirsty Besterman, Robert Cavanah, Tom Greaves, Nakay Kpaka, Ed MacArthur, Charlie Manton, David Mara, Flora Montgomery, Wilf Scolding, Larrington Walker and Ria Zmitrowitz.

Stoppard’s story, set during two time frames, is based in a stately home in 19th century rural Derbyshire, where secret desires and professional rivalries take hold of the residents of Sidley Park.

The daughter of the house, Thomasina Coverly, is a bright and talented pupil tutored by Byron’s friend Septimus Hodge, who makes a startling discovery well ahead of her time.

In the present day, academics Hannah Jarvis and Bernard Nightingale attempt to piece together the fragments of truth that tell her story.

Arcadia explores the delicate relationship between past and present, and is a witty and absorbing portrait of two generations of an aristocratic family as the focus moves from 1809 to now, and back to the past.

First premiered at the National Theatre in 1993 directed by Trevor Nunn, Arcadia is considered one of the greatest plays of the last century, winning countless awards including the 1993 Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best New Play.

Arcadia has twice been produced on Broadway, winning the 1995 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, and the 2011 Tony Award for Best Revival of Play.

This production sees a new collaboration between English Touring Theatre (Translations, Ghosts, The Misanthrope) and Theatre Royal Brighton Productions (Dandy Dick, Blue Orange).

Arcadia was recently voted one of the nation’s top five plays in English Touring Theatre’s ‘My Favourite Play’ poll, which was conducted to mark the company’s 21st birthday celebrations.

Tom Stoppard said: “I’m delighted that a new tour of Arcadia, directed by the young, visionary Blanche McIntrye, is taking place reaching audiences across the UK.

“The current challenges for regional theatre in the UK, mean that a production of this scale and quality are very rarely toured”.

Arcadia runs at the Waterside Theatre from March 2-7.

Remaining 2015 tour dates:

March 9-14, Hall for Cornwall, Truro
March 23-28, New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham
March 30-April 4, Cambridge Arts Theatre
April 6-11, Malvern Theatres, Malvern
April 13-18, Oxford Playhouse.

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