Complex “Arcadia” Takes A Fresh Approach At West End Players Guild

arc-young

Kristin Rion as the young Thomasina in Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia” at West End Players Guild. Photo: John Lamb

Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia” seems to take on a life of its own and that life seems to be different with every production I’ve seen. Crossing over the centuries and offering witty and beautiful language and vague concepts that often boggle the mind of right-brained reviewers, it’s nice to have a fresh, relatable production to savor. West End Players Guild opens their season with this funny and serious look at one family in the same house pondering like questions two centuries apart.

arc-duo

Michael Cassidy Flynn as Septimus and Kristin Rion as Thomasina in “Arcadia” at WEPG. Photo: John Lamb

In 1809 in Derbyshire, England, we meet the young upstart, Thomasina Coverly as she explores mathematical problems in her head that belie her tender age of 13 and baffle her tutor, Septimus Hodge. He is soon confronted by Ezra Chater, the cuckolded friend who seems both upset and flattered by the attentions of Septimus to his wife. Architect Richard Noakes seems oblivious to all of the actions going on around him and Lady Croom also seems to be off in her own little world but has a thing or two to say as she observes the whirlwind of activity around her. An old friend of Septimus happens to be Lord Byron and he figures prominently- though he doesn’t appear- in both the 19th and subsequently the 21st century property.

Kristin Rion is a delight as the precocious Thomasina. Clever and smart, she doesn’t realize that some of the concepts she is espousing will become discoveries by others in years to come. Michael Cassidy Flynn as Septimus is properly fussy and taken by his young student on several levels. Andrew Kuhlman is hilarious as the wronged gentleman who can’t decide if he feels taken advantage of or honored. And Carl Overly, Jr. also turns in a brilliant performance as the often funny while trying to be serious architect.

Ann Marie Mohr is a wonderful Lady Croom who pops in and out offering bits of wisdom and advice. Anthony Wininger is the straight laced Captain Brice and Scott De Broux makes a perfectly groomed butler.

arc-kuhl

Andrew Kuhlman as Ezra and Carl Overly, Jr. as Noakes in the WEPG production of “Arcadia.” Photo: John Lamb

Meanwhile, in the same house some 200 years later, we meet ancestors of these folks as the time and story jump forward and back through several scenes in two acts. The scholarly Hannah Jarvis is in deep discussion with the pretentious Bernard Nightingale as he attempts to track down clues as to Lord Byron’s influence on the Coverly family and any evidence of his visits to the country home. Chloe Coverly and Valentine Coverly seem disinterested in the matter altogether and fail to see any sense in pursuing that or any other aspect of the family tree.

Nicole Angeli turns in another stellar performance as the somewhat low key Hannah, seeming more perturbed than interested in Nightingale’s enthusiasm. John Wolbers gives a superb, over the top performance as the erratic Nightingale. His exuberance is overpowering yet realistic. Erin Renee Roberts is as cool as a cucumber as Chloe and, along with Jaz Tucker as Valentine, bring us all down to a reality that is careening off the charts every time Bernard Nightingale enters the room. Mason Hunt rounds out the cast as the only member of the Coverly family who crosses over the centuries- as Gus and Augustus.

Ellie Schwetye has directed this masterful play with a great eye for detail in both centuries as well as a deep understanding of all of the various and eccentric characters. “Arcadia” runs smoothly through the transitions until the final brilliant scene where the centuries seem to overlap. The Tracey Newcomb-Margrave costumes are wonderful and the set traveling through the centuries is great as well.

arc-nicjohn

Nicole Angeli as Hannah and John Wolbers as Nightingale in “Arcadia” at West End Players Guild. Photo: John Lamb

This is quite an undertaking for a company that always rises to meet the challenges and this, their 106th season, gets off to a fine start. “Arcadia” runs through October 9th at West End Players Guild. Contact them at 314-667-5686 for tickets or more information.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: