For his time-shifting Arcadia (1993), award-winning playwright Tom Stoppard received the best reviews of his career. That's saying something, considering he had already written such dazzlers as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Real Thing and the screenplay for Brazil. (His Academy Award-winning Shakespeare in Love and the trilogy The Coast of Utopia were yet to come.) In Arcadia, Stoppard's exceptional theatrical powers fuse seamlessly into what eminent theater dean Robert Brustein called "a highly literate, ingenious and intelligent theatrical entertainment, probably Stoppards most accomplished play."
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In the play, the year is 1809 and we're at Sidley Park, a grand manor house in Derbyshire, where young mathematical prodigy Thomasina keeps astonishing her tutor Septimus and a very bad poet keeps challenging the bemused tutor to a duel. Suddenly we're in the present, in the same house, in the same room, where a new set of characters is hotly debating what happened there in 1809 - and in the gardens. The play bounces back and forth until the present truly collides with the past in a whacked-out masquerade ball. Love and lust, art and science, and nature and nurture get all mixed up, along with chaos theory, the second law of thermodynamics and Lord Byron. Believe it or not, it works brilliantly. This is theater at its most provocative: Arcadia will have you thinking about it for weeks afterward. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Through June 6. (No performance May 14.) Main Street Theater, 2540 Times Boulevard. For information, call 713-524-6706 or visit www.mainstreettheater.com. $10 to $36.
Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: May 8. Continues through June 6, 2010