ANTON CHEKHOV’S VAUDEVILLES
by Anton Chekhov translated by Michael Frayn.
Jermyn Street Theatre 16b Jermyn Street SW1Y 6ST To 1 February 2014.
Mon–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3.30pm.
Runs 1hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 0207 287 2875.
Review: William Russell 16 January.
Dispel the January blues.
Chekhov is, of course, best known for his plays which, although always claimed to be comedies, tend to be about rather sad, ridiculous people living in the country facing uncertain future. They are great plays but not exactly laughing matter although they are often funny. He was, in his time, however well known in Russia as a writer of short, satirical sketches and this collection of sketches and short stories translated by Michael Frayn is a delight.
Jenny Eastop’s production is impeccable and the cast could hardly be bettered.
It opens with Drama, a glorious sketch in which a writer is persecuted by a lady playwright with a Russian play of hilarious banality she insists on reading to him, followed by The Alien Corn in which a landowner persecutes one of those “lost” characters who inhabit Russian literature, the past his sell by date family tutor, a Frenchman with no family pupils left.
In The Bear a widow, who has decided on a life in weeds, gets swept off her feet by a visiting landowner, in The Evils of Tobacco a man delivering a lecture strays from the subject, in The Inspector General the driver of the cart reveals to the Inspector he is taking to town that the townsfolk are not as daft as all that, and in The Proposal, the last and best, a young man who has come to ask for the hand in marriage of his neighbour’s daughter embarks on a series of breathtaking quarrels with the neighbour and the daughter over nothing of importance.
This is one of these evenings that lifts the spirits performed by as versatile a collection of players as one could hope to meet in one theatre.
Pavel Yasilevich: Michael Watson-Gray.
Murashkina: Alexandra Ryall.
Luka: Oliver Lavery.
The Alien Corn
Kamyshev: Ben Higgins.
Champugn: Oliver Lavery.
Misha: Michael Watson-Gray.
Popova: Tara Dowd.
Smirnov: Ben Higgins.
Luka: Jeremy Booth.
The Evils of Tobacco
Nyukhin: Jeremy Booth.
The Inspector General
A Traveller: Michael Watson-Gray.
A Cart Driver: Ben Higgins.
Chubukov: Jeremy Booth.
Natalya Stepanovna: Alexandra Ryall.
Lomov: Oliver Lavery.
Director: Jenny Eastop.
Designer/Graphics: Felix Trench.
Lighting: Helen Williams.