Arcadia A.Summary The play features the same set the entire time –a drawing room in Sidley Park, the home of Lord and Lady Croom (both past and present). Objects remain the same but are added to as the action moves from 1809 to the 1990s. It is 1809. Septimus is tutoring Thomasina Coverly, the thirteen-year-old daughter. She is a brilliant, precocious young woman studying Fermat’s Last Theorem but is asking him about “carnal embrace” because she has heard rumors of Mrs. Chater, the wife of a local, undistinguished poet and someone in their gazebo. Septimus, ever witty, avoids giving her a straightforward example. Chater himself barges in, challenging Septimus to a duel for being the one in the gazebo with his wife; Septimus calms Chater down by superciliously praising the vain man’s poetry. Noakes, the landscape architect hired to transform the genteel and classically designed Sidley Park into a romantic landscape, comes in with Lady Croom and her brother, Captain Brice. She is critical of the proposed changes. In the present day, Hannah Jarvis, a scholar, is at Sidley Park researching the famous hermit who lived there in the 1800s. Chloe Coverly, the daughter of the present Lord and Lady Croom, conducts Bernard Nightingale in. He is a don and Byron scholar who once gave Hannah’s book on Caroline Lamb a poor review, so he keeps his identity secret. Chloe’s brother, Valentine, a mathematics graduate student, is also there conducting research on the grouse population. Chloe accidentally reveals who Bernard is, but Hannah still agrees to share information with him because he believes that Lord Byron, who was staying at Sidley Park for a time, shot and killed Ezra Chater. He has found a few letters suggesting a duel, and the only Chater in the historical record after 1809 is a botanist. In 1809 Septimus is tutoring Thomasina in Latin. They discuss the loss of the library of Alexandria, which Thomasina mourns and Septimus dismisses as irrelevant because all lost knowledge will eventually be found. Chater comes in the room, furious with Septimus because this time he has learned from Lord Byron that Septimus wrote a negative review of his poetry. Frustrated, Septimus agrees. In the present, Hannah discovers Thomasina’s primer, which trace her early explorations of what would be eventually labeled iteration and chaos theory. Valentine is interested in this but claims Thomasina did not know what she was doing, that she was only doodling. Bernard continues to advance his theory about Byron killing Chater at Sidley Park. Bernard practices his lecture in front of Hannah, Valentine, and Chloe regarding his theory, which he is preparing for publication. Hannah and Valentine annoy him by challenging him on various points. He and Valentine get into a dispute about science and literature, and Valentine leaves.