Hope College Theatre is presenting "Arcadia" in the DeWitt Center main theatre on Friday-Saturday, Feb. 15-16, and Wednesday-Saturday, Feb. 20-23, at 8 p.m.

Written by Tom Stoppard, "Arcadia" is a comedy set entirely in a room overlooking a garden at Sidley Park, an English estate. Scenes alternate between the early 19th century and the present day, as three contemporary scholars draw upon the few remaining clues in seeking the truth about a duel thought to have happened in the past.

From 1809 to 1812, the home is the residence of Lord and Lady Croom, and their 13-year-old daughter Lady Thomasina. Brilliant but innocent Thomasina is a mathematical prodigy, but because she is a girl in the Napoleonic era her talent goes largely unrecognized--except by her tutor, Septimus Hodge, who understands her potential. Thomasina is also growing into womanhood, which causes rising tension throughout the play. While Septimus is a natural object for her affection, he is involved in another affair.

Those in the characters' orbit include the poet Lord Byron, who went to university with Septimus and visits Sidley Park. It is the modern scholars' exploration of a rumor that Byron dueled with another poet at the estate that occasions the story.

"In this play Stoppard deals with such diverse subjects as English landscape architecture, literary slothing and the chaos theory of physics, but at its core the play is really a good old fashioned murder mystery, though there is actually no murder committed," said guest director Jon Cranney. "In 'Arcadia,' Stoppard tackles no less daunting a theme than the relationship of the laws of physics that control the university and our daily lives of struggling with our fits of ambition, love and understanding of that universe."

Cranney's work with "Arcadia" marks a return to Hope. He was an artist-in-residence at the college when the main theatre first opened in the early 1970s, and his visage as the character "Falstaff" from "The Merry Wives of Windsor" was featured on Hope theatre programs and posters for many years.

The 19th-century Sidley Park residents include junior Patrick Glaub of Plymouth, Ind., as Septimus; sophomore Jessica Trakimas of Carmel, Ind., as Thomasina; junior Kristin Tiscornia of Geneseo, N.Y., as Lady Croom; junior Peter Beck of Dolton, Ill., as Chater; senior David Yang of Marshall as Noakes; freshman Jeffrey Kurtze of Carson City as Jellaby; and junior David Ovies of Royal Oak as Captain Brice.

The present-day characters include senior Jill Nyquist of Dyer, Ind., as Hannah; sophomore Christopher Bryan of Libertyville, Ill., as Bernard; senior Jeremy Lydic of Eldridge, Iowa, as Valentine; and freshman Grace Pollert of Ada as Chloe. Freshman Andrew Meyers of Churchville, N.Y., as Lord Augustus and Gus, inhabits both time periods.

Set design is by faculty member Richard Smith, with assistance from sophomore Micah Maatman of Kalamazoo and freshman Rachel Jamieson of West Bloomfield. Costume design is by faculty member Michelle Bombe and assistant designer Jill VanDeWater, a sophomore from Ramsey, N.J. Sound and lighting design is by faculty member Perry Landes. Stage managers are junior Kim Noel Daelhousen of Sinking Spring, Pa., and Jamie Raabe of Holland. Jeremy Lydic is serving as dramaturg.

Due to the play's complexity and mature themes, "Arcadia" is not recommended for children.

Tickets are available in the theatre lobby ticket office in the DeWitt Center, and cost $7 for regular admission and $4 for students and senior citizens. The ticket office is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday noon to 5 p.m., and until 8 p.m. on performance nights, and can be called at (616) 395-7890.

The DeWitt Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.