Most helpful positive review
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2009
Before reading this volume, I was still in two minds about Stoppard. All dazzling surface and no meaningful depth? Or though-provoking themes combined with Wildean wit? The current collection of plays in volume 5 of Faber's Stoppard series, containing five full-length works for the stage written over four decades, should provide convincing evidence to settle the argument.
To my mind, no other Stoppard play can match the beauty and power of Arcadia, his 1993 triumph which, in the words of Jim Stewart, is the least likely of the plays to seem dated and the most likely to be revived. Reminiscent of Jumpers in its impossible juxtapositions (gymnastics and moral philosophy there), Arcadia's unlikely terrain of landscape gardening, thermodynamics, academic rivalry and chaos theory is unsurpassed in theatricality and invention. As a whole, the collection proves as scintillating on the page as on the stage and critic Michael Billington is surely apt in talking of Stoppard's Technicolour brilliance, 'delighting in language and the illusions of theatre', which privided a welcome antidote to the kitchen-sink realism of post-war English theatre.
Although some of the dialogue can seem outmoded (like that of the very un-p.c. Wagner in Night and Day) this is the Stoppard collection to top the rest. Plays like these delight and stretch the mind in equal measure.