Anton Chekhov on stage in London, England


This video from the USA says about itself:

The Seagull – 1975 – Anton Chekhov – John J. Desmond – Blythe Danner – Frank Langella

A group of friends and relations gather at a country estate to see the first performance of an experimental play written and staged by the young man of the house, Konstantin (Frank Langella), an aspiring writer who dreams of bringing new forms to the theatre.

By Jack Dunleavy in England:

Vivid and artful

Tuesday 9th August 2016

An Anton Chekhov marathon leaves Jack Dunleavy emotionally battered but deeply satisfied by the experience

Young Chekhov: Platonov, Ivanov, The Seagull
National Theatre, London SE1
5/5

What’s more daunting, seeing three plays in one day or paying £150 to do so?

Young Chekhov at the National Theatre takes this question as its secret theme.

In a new version David Hare explores the shortcomings of art and love, the importance of money and the perils of boredom.

The protagonists in Anton Chekhov’s early work are a trio of manchildren, each going through a different kind of quarter-life crisis.

In Platonov, the title character has more women on his plate than he can handle. James McArdle is excellent in the main role, armed with the pick-up artist’s weapons of choice from Casanova to The Game — flouncy shirt, big boots and plenty to drink. Whether he’s lying to a lover or just lying on the floor drunk, Platonov is exasperatingly forgivable.

Play number two, Ivanov, is about a penniless landowner who can’t bear the company of anyone he knows, most of all his consumptive wife (Nina Sosanya).

Chekhov’s signature flickering between comedy and tragedy is pulled off excellently in Platonov, but jars a little in this one.

Geoffrey Streatfeild is so convincingly miserable as Nikolai Ivanov that the laughs are generated more often from farce than wit.

The day builds to a climax with The Seagull, Chekhov’s first real masterpiece.

This is a story about endless struggles — old art and new, one generation and the next, the sexes, cities and the country.

To no-one’s surprise Anna Chancellor gives the standout performance of the entire day as Arkadina, the once-famous actor and mother of avant-garde playwright and nervous wreck Konstantin (Joshua Jones).

Chancellor serves a cocktail of ego, magnetism and just a slice of panic. True to her character, she demands the audience’s attention and praise even in the background.

Is it worth the time and money? The plays don’t necessarily end when the curtain comes down. Part of the fun is how the Chekhovian spirit seeps throughout the intervals and into the next production.

Chekhov’s world isn’t the happiest place to spend the day, but it is vivid and artful. His protagonists may destroy themselves by questioning their place in life, but for nine hours in the Olivier theatre the audience knows they’ve come to the right place.

Runs until October 8 2016. Box Office: (020) 7452-3000

2 thoughts on “Anton Chekhov on stage in London, England

  1. Pingback: Chekhov, African Americans on London stage | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Chekhov’s Seagull, new film | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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