We took in the Stoppard Arcadia at the Ethel Barrymore last night and it's like the reviews say. In short, one of the weirdest theater experiences I've ever witnessed outside of a junior high school gymnasium. The thing is that at least one, perhaps more , of the cast is/are literally unintelligible. Local mileage may vary but I mean "unintelligible" in the sense of "you can't understand a word they are saying." And I don't mean just from the back of the house, either (we were in the middle). And not just the English accents (they really aren't that heavy). And I don't think it is the acoustics (else why are others just fine?). And I won't blame Stoppard either: people say he is dense and he is dense in a way, but I've always been sympatico with him and I never had this kind of problem before. Some critics have warned that you really need to have read the play before attending. I had; unfortunately, it was 15 years ago.
Critics have been bashing it for unintelligibility (even as they enjoyed it for other reasons) (link, link) so I wouldn't be surprised if things are better now in mid-run than they were at the beginning. Still, there we are. Too bad; as I say, I'm a Stoppard fan and I think Arcadia just might be one of his better-integrated projects (he does tend to run on at the mouth sometimes). But who would know? On the basis of this outing, I can't say I would.