Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stoppard's Arcadia: Back on Broadway, More or Less

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.

1 comment:

fatbear said...

Don't even dare think of going to BAM for the Propeller "Comedy" - I know the piece and I got lost in the unintelligibility - my wife saw both, and felt that Arcadia was more intelligible