Tom Stoppard

The Hard Problem

Fans of Tom Stoppard who are used to the fizzy humor of Travesties, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, or Arcadia should be cautioned that The Hard Problem finds him in his other mode, tackling serious issues with less levity, as he did in The Coast of Utopia and The Real Thing. This time around the paramount concern is the scientific label used as the title: how does consciousness come about? Connected to it are notions of altruism vs. egoism, with doses of coincidence, conscience, evolution, divinity, business ethics and other meaty subjects thrown in. And yet there are still moments of humor in Jack O’Brien’s fascinating production of this twisty play—a brainiac’s sumptuous meal laid out for the layman.

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Arcadia

Arcadia

Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia exemplifies the British playwright’s gift for combining intellectual inspection of the corners of science, philosophy and history with high comedy. The wit is dry, but the plays are juicy, and Arcadia, along with Travesties and The Invention of Love, is one of his best.

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