16 February 2016 | 1:10 pm | Hannah Story

"He is held back by a text that is too dense, and could do with an act of translation."

Director Richard Cottrell's Arcadia is difficult. Beautifully costumed by Julie Lynch, and put on with enviable bluster by a talented cast (including the under-utilised, hilarious Glenn Hazeldine), the play in the end doesn't quite hit the mark — because of flaws in Stoppard's 1993 text, or because of a distinct lack of chemistry between cast members, or because our set, created by Michael Scott-Mitchell, blocks off much of the action with a long dining table.

We're shoehorned into this single room, watching two narratives play out concurrently — in the present Andrea Demetriades (a standout) and Josh McConville attempt to uncover the literary secrets of an English country house; and in 1809 Ryan Corr and Georgia Flood are a teacher and his student traversing complex mathematical theory and the exact meaning of "carnal embrace".

Corr is mesmerising — he's the person on this stage who's going to go off and do great things — as our handsome and quick-witted Lothario, demanding attention, keeping us in thrall. But he is held back by a text that is too dense, and could do with an act of translation from someone like STC's former Artistic Director Andrew Upton. If someone was to interrogate exactly how to get complex ideas about chaos theory and thermodynamics and literary theory and make them digestible to a restless Friday night audience, this play could potentially be fascinating. But instead it's presented on stage as 'worthy' (because it's Stoppard!), so it is the audience who fails to interpret it, not the storytellers who fail to make the story accessible.

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