Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Peak Performances and their Awkward Sexual Moments: Arcadia

Arcadia-November 2009-Alexander Kasser Theater
Now this has got to be the most confusing play I have ever seen in my entire life, but in doing so it has become one of my favorites. It takes place in two different centuries as the characters in the present setting try to solve the mysteries of the past utilizing the resources provided for them, all in the same location of Sidley Park, Derbyshire, England. These mysteries pretty much center on the romance among the characters of the past.

*Beware of Spoilers*

April 1809: The scenes from the past have got to hold the biggest love triangle of all time. The following is this triangle in a nutshell: The play begins on April 10, 1809 with Thomasina Coverly asking her tutor Septimus Hodge the meaning of “carnal embrace”. This question initiates the action of the rest of the play, revealing sex secrets and murderous desires. Septimus, who is in love with Thomasina’s mother Lady Croom, who in turn loves Lord Byron, slept with Mrs. Chater, who apparently slept with Lord Byron also, wife to less than decent poet Ezra Chater and the object of affection of Captain Brice. Mr. Chater and Captain Brice form an alliance to kill Septimus in a duel and Septimus is up for the challenge. Bernard Nightingale in the present tries to prove that is was Lord Byron who shot Mr. Chater thus killing him by ransacking the game books stored in Sidley Park, home to the descendants of the Coverly family: Valentine, Chloe and Gus, whose house is currently being studied by author Hannah Jarvis for her book. The whole conflict in 1809 is opened like a can of worms by Thomasina’s question and acts as a catalyst for the rest of the plot. Thankfully the scenes set in the present aren’t as confused, for the goals of these characters are pretty obvious.

A thirty-year-old man hooking up with an eighteen-year-old girl: Okay so I know this isn’t that important to the plot but it really bothers me. Bernard in his late thirties has sexual relations with the eighteen-year-old Chloe. Now I know that she is legal and all, but I just find this coupling unsettling considering all the years he has on her. Chloe’s character gradually becomes more and more annoying as she falls more and more for Bernard because we as an audience know that she is just being na├»ve. Bernard eventually dumps her and does not want her to accompany him back to London, for his heart wasn’t in the relationship as much as Chloe’s. Surprise! This kind of outcome is predictable considering he is a man who likes his sex and also makes advances towards Hannah, which is another sexually awkward moment in itself considering the rocky relationship the two have.

Gus: Gus is the youngest of the Coverlys and is also mute. He has no lines but makes it obvious that he harbors a crush on Hannah by exhibiting it through his offering of apples, dancing with her, and just acting shy around her. Though this is cute, every time the kid enters the scene not only is he mute he is timidly awkward. He just stands there and then runs out frightened. But I guess because he is young, this kind of shyness is understandable.

Thomasina kisses Septimus: I am currently on the fence with this one, but because I complained so much about Bernard and Chloe together, I only found it fitting to write about these two as well. Septimus is twenty-two and Thomasina is thirteen and then sixteen. In the final seen they share kisses. They may be considered awkward because of the age difference and the fact it happens so suddenly, but I really don’t think it counts as an awkward sexual moment. This is because Thomasina at sixteen in 1809 is way more mature than Chloe at eighteen in the present. In 1809, it was probably common for a sixteen-year-old girl to be married with children already. Plus, it was only a kiss. Septimus was Thomasina’s tutor with whom she got along, so the kiss they share is actually kind of cute and innocent in this context.

Next up: Polaroid Stories and As You Like It. :)

Check out the previous post of this series: A Man of No Importance

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