Black Swan State Theatre Company
Written by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Kate Cherry
Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre
21 March - April 1, 2012
|Scott Sheridan and Whitney Richards pic: Gary Marsh Photography|
The reason is simple; there are all sorts of theories to explain the world, many of which – chaos theory, fractals, Kelvin’s theory of heat, the 2nd law of thermodynamics, population theory – are given a good going over in Arcadia, but, as the concupiscent Chloe Coverly (Adriane Daff) proclaims, it’s sex that makes it go around.
And it’s sex, in word and deed, which drives this creamily satisfying revival by Kate Cherry’s Black Swan State Theatre Company. There is much bonking done or denied, conspired for or hankered after, in picturesque locations like gazebos and piano rooms – all, I have to report, safely off stage. The talk may be of literary criticism, landscape gardening and all that mathematics, but there’s too, too solid flesh stirring urgently under those elegant muslins and linens (prettily draped by designer Alicia Clements, whose costumes and wedding-cake set are all that could be wished for).
This is not to say that Stoppard’s academic musings are merely a front for a bedroom farce. His ruminations on life, science, art and the pros, cons and pronunciation of ha-has are finely drawn and pleasurable, while the architecture of the play, the easy way it moves its apple from Isaac Newton to Steve Jobs, and the confident, unpushy way the playwright manages internal and external speculation (Did Lord Byron cuckold and kill Ezra Chater? Was Septimus Hodge the hermit in the Coverley’s garden?) is justly admired. It’s all gloriously stimulating and, as long as you don’t fall into the trap of taking Stoppard too seriously – I’m sure he never does – great fun.