The physics of getting physical

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 December, 2006, 12:00am

Benjamin Gagnon's arrogant literature academic clashes intellectual swords with his novelist nemesis, played by classmate Kelly Belchere (above).

The Hong Kong International School students were appearing in a production of Arcadia, Tom Stoppard's award-winning play of twin comic tales of poetry, manners, science and sex in the same house but separated by two centuries. In the present day, Gagnon and Belchere's characters strive to determine whether the poet Lord Byron killed a minor poet in a duel at an English country house in the early 1800s.

In the same room two centuries earlier, a pompous tutor (Craig Ueland, pictured left, on the right) is trying to wheedle his way into the arms of his brilliant if somewhat eccentric teenage student's mother (Katelyn Abbott, centre), while at the same time avoid the wrath of the husband of another house guest he has been spied in 'carnal embrace' with in the Gazebo.

Based on Newtonian determinism and the heat equation, Stoppard's work won the Olivier Award for best play on its release in 1993. Its print form was short-listed in October in a Royal Institution of Science search for the best science book ever written.