Sex, Mathematics, Romance and Time Chaos combined with a talented cast, bring Tom Stoppards best to The Pear Stage.
The Pear Avenue Theatre closes out their 13th season with the classic ARCADIA. This also marked the company's final performance at the Pear Avenue black box space. They have performed at since their beginnings in Mountain View Ca. Tom Stoppard’s play some say is his greatest work, ARCADIA is a class act by the talented cast at the Pear. Director Jeanie K.Smith assembled a very talented 11 member cast to play in both worlds in Stoppard’s fine script. Smith adds some great movement and fast set changes to take us back and forth to now and then.
The tale takes place in a Derbyshire English country home and garden set in 1812 and in present time. The Coverly family is the owner of the Park estate, and that remains the same in the present day scenes. A story of two centuries both time periods are played well -- In each time zone Stoppard word plays some great metaphysics. Math is also a subtext to this ping pong game of now and then. As the story flips back and forth between time zones and centuries, the two hour plus story moves well. The constant argument and theory of Chaos brings a comic air, and the play is a pleasure to watch. Smiths addition of a tortoise on the main table is a perfect subtext for the hare and the tortoise of time travel. (or just a clever paper weight)
I was impressed with the talent on stage at this small venue, Robert Sean Campbell is very convincing as Septimus Hodge, a hired tutor. Monica Ammerman is cast as Thomasina, the student, probably the weakest in the cast but with such talent on stage to work with, she is impressive. Local favorite Dan Kapler is excellent as Bernard Nightingale, the historian, always angry for most of his part. The second historian Betsy Kruse Craig, is very entertaining playing Hannah Jarvis. Roneer Aliza Hahamin as Chole Coverly is paired well with the taller Craig, Hahamin is wonderful on stage. The classy Lady Croom was played by Monica Cappuccini the night I saw the show. Pears founder and producer the versatile and talented Diane Tasca, plays the elegant Mrs Crown closing weekend. Charles McKeithan was on course as Captain Brice, and this cast for the most part, is on point with their british dialects.
I was very impressed with the youngest member of the cast, Jason Pollak who was cast in both time zones as the present time Gus Coverly, and 1800 version Augustus Coverly. Pollak’s timing is perfect and his teenage angst is excellent. I look forward to see more of his work on Bay Area stages. Michael Rhone is comfortable yet tortured as Valentine Coverly in the present time cast. Nicolae Muntean, who has been with the Pear company since its beginnings and always the best, plays Jellaby and his second hat Richard Noakes. The poet Chater is played well by Brian Flegel, the real actor playing an actor who loves a good review.
Stoppard calls for a simple set that doesn’t need much change from 1800 to present, that makes it easy for the company to move and change centuries on a moment's black out. Janny Cote’s set fits that role with a very elegant look. Including doors and passageways for fast exits and entrances. The sound design includes classic piano scores and distant sounds of gunshots and spring moods all created by Gordon Smith. The lighting warm with the sky back drop that always fit the mood spot on by Ben Hemmen.
ARCADIA closes July 12, 2015 and the lights come down at this 40 seat black box. As in Stoppard's timed kaos, the Pear will reopen a couple blocks away for their 14th season. It will drop the “avenue” and become “The Pear Theatre” and move to 1110 La Avenida, in a new state of the art black box that can hold up to a 100 seats.
You still have a chance to see the closing weekend of ARCADIA, some singles remain. Its a sophisticated evening of theatre mixed with metaphysics, math and some sexual subplot. Let Stoppard challenge you!
Congrats to the Pear for 13 years of fine theatre and the future looks great for this talented company.
The Pear Avenue Theatre, 1220 Pear Ave.,
Unit K, Mountain View
8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays
Through: July 12
Tickets: $20-30; 650-254-1148