Being told that you are in seat AA1 is exceptionally good news if you’re at an airport. At a theatre, however…
In this instance, however, all was not lost. There was quite a lot of neck craning going on in the first half, after which I just gave up and paid attention to the footwear on display. Luckily, this side of things was being looked after by none other than Amy Roberts, holder of not one but four BAFTAs and one international Emmy nomination. If I’m going to stare at shoes for two and a half hours, there’s nobody I’d rather have choosing them.
Arcadia is a wonderful play: unapologetically intellectual without being a swat, nimble without showing off and effortlessly funny, it is the George Wingate of modern English drama. There can be few plays more more deserving of the term masterpiece.
This production, directed ably by David Leveaux, is entirely solid, without being truly revelatory. Samantha Bond as Hannah, Neil Pearson as Bernard, Nancy Carroll as Lady Croom, Lucy Griffiths as Chloe (wearing a nice pair of wellies on occasion) and Dan Stevens as Septimus all acquit themselves admirably. Certainly no complaints.
Without a doubt, however, the highlight honours go to Lydia Larson, understudying for Jessie Cave (of Harry Potter almost-fame) as Thomasina. Larson is superb, glittering with charm, intelligence and naïveté.
Also worth a mention is Ed Stoppard, son of the man himself*, as Valentine (wearing quite a nice pear of Converse who is brilliant, but in an utterly bizarre way. Involved and involving, nervous, shy and completely convincing, he brings the part to life in a way I’ve never seen before.