FATHERS AND SONS
by Brian Friel after the novel by Ivan Turgenev.
Donmar Warehouse, 41 Earlham Street WC2H 9LX To 26 July 2014.
Mon–Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30 pm.
Audio-described 12 July 2.30pm.
Captioned 21 July.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 7624.
Review: William Russell 11 June.
Back to the dacha one more time.
A marvellous set by Rob Howell, all stripped-pine, which reaches right to the back wall of the auditorium and way up into the recesses of the roof, skilful direction by Lyndsey Turner and a fine cast make this a rewarding evening in many respects. The problem is the play. Brian Friel has a track record second to none for adapting and translating the great Russian writers, but his dramatisation of Turgenev’s novel really does not work. The clash of ideas between the fathers and sons, the liberal, useless middle-class adults and the two young men intent on destroying everything, fails to grip.
Arkady, a young student, comes home for the holidays to the family estate mismanaged by his foolish, vain, useless father Nikolai, bringing his flatmate Bazarov with him. Arkady is infatuated with Bazarov, a brilliant, arrogant young man, who is a nihilist. The resulting intrusion of this mismatched pair into the family world is catastrophic.
Seth Numrich is impressive as Bazarov but his performance lacks the spark needed to justify all the damage he does to those around him. He should hold all eyes. Joshua James as Arkady, his idealistic, adoring friend whose nihilism is sham, does just that. As Arkady’s father Pavel, Anthony Calf bumbles beautifully, Caoilfhionn Dunne is touching as Fenichka, his housekeeper and mistress, Karl Johnson superb as Bazarov’s sad doctor father, a source of Latin tags and inept medical treatments and Susan Engel pure delight as an aged Princess not quite as mad as she seems.
Turgenev was examining a real social crisis in 19th-century Russia in his novel. Friel’s play, however, is just one more trip to the inevitable dacha full of male failures, frustrated women and rude, resentful servants which features in so much Russian drama.
Dunyasha: Siobhan McSweeney.
Fenichka: Caoilfhionn Dunne.
Pavel: Tim McMullan.
Prokofyich/Timofeich: David Fielder.
Nikolai: Anthony Calf.
Arkady: Joshua James.
Bazarov: Seth Numrich.
Piotr: Jack McMullen.
Princess Olga: Susan Engel.
Anna: Elaine Cassidy.
Katya: Phoebe Sparrow.
Vassily: Karl Johnson.
Arina: Lindy Whiteford.
Fedka: Chai Chan Sing / Max Mason / Harrison Sharpe.
Director: Lyndsey Turner.
Designer: Rob Howell.
Lighting: James Farncombe.
Sound: Carolyn Downing.
Composer: Alex Baranowski.