THE burning question is whether or not Lord Byron had an illicit assignation with a lady in the gazebo, why did he then vanish abroad for two years after the death of a minor poet in a duel… and so on.

And if I ever eventually discover what he had for breakfast that morning, I will die a happy man. Oh for heaven’s sake, who cares?

By the time this rambling, cerebral workout was stumbling its way to the finishing line I had almost lost the will to live.

Of course, any suggestion that its creatorTom Stoppard may not be the greatest genius who ever came to Earth in order to radiate light into the dark corners of our ignorance would be considered by some to be the most heinous of heresies.

In the 16th century you could be burned at the stake for denying that the bread was actually the body of Christ. In modern literary circles, the metaphorical equivalent applies.

Put another way, this was a classic case of the emperor’s new clothes. For the problem throughout this nearly three-hour epic is that it’s all mind and no heart. There is not a scrap of human emotion to be found anywhere.

We are told that the piece is governed by something called chaos theory. That’s all very well, but when this notion has been pummelled into our brains for some time with all the finesse of a wrecking ball coming through your conservatory window then you can’t wait for it to stop.

Much of the acting seemed to be first term at drama school stuff, with the exception of Wilf Scolding’s brilliant portrayal of tutor Septimus Hodge, who comes up with some sharp one-liners in what is otherwise tepid verbosity that seeks to impress rather than express.

Robert Cavanah as intellectual bore Bernard Nightingale also indulges in some keen verbal swordplay with writer Hannah Jarvis (Flora Montgomery) – but once again, her fondness for using every expression in the actor’s handbook does start to wear a bit thin after a while.

Arcadia runs until Saturday (April 11).