by Nikolai Gogol translated and adapted by Howard Colyer.
Brockley Jack Studio Theatre 410 Brockley Road SE4 2DH To 12 July 2014.
Runs 1hr 15min No interval.
TICKETS: 0333 66 3366.
Review: William Russell 25 June.
The rollercoaster doesn’t roll.
This is a nicely performed and staged version by Howard Colyer of Nikolai Gogol’s play but somehow it just doesn’t sparkle as it should. It is hard to see why – maybe Colyer hasn’t managed to get enough jokes into his adaptation from Gogol’s 1842 Russian setting. Perhaps director, Scott le Crass, has failed to get things up to speed.
Either way, while a pleasant-enough affair, it is soufflé which has gone flat. There is nice work from Andrew Venning as Podkolyossin, the stuffy, old before his time bureaucrat who would have him a wife but not maybe just yet, and the ever reliable Jean Apps as Fekla, the marriage broker who sets him up with Agatha, a 27 year old spinster who cannot get a man.
Just why the rather lovely Elana Martin – “I’m only 27. I haven’t had much fun.” – should be in that predicament is part problem, part joke. Podkolyossin’s friend, Kotchkarev, played with all the stops out by Dominic Cazenove, decides to push his friend into wedlock. There are grotesque and pompous rival suitors, a bossy aunt, and all sorts of complications arise before the reluctant Podkolyossin almost brings himself to popping the question.
Playing Stepan, his servant, Sarah Morgan is a Baldrick delight – she doubles as Agatha’s maid and it is a pity she doesn’t get similar chances in that role to show what servants think of their masters.
Podkolyossin: Andrew Venning.
Stepan/Dunyashka: Sarah Morgan.
Fekla: Jean Apps.
Kotcharev: Dominic Cazenov.
Agatha: Elana Martin.
Arina: Joan Plunkett.
Omelette: Ste Johnson.
Anunchkin: Joseph Wakelin.
Shevakin: Tony Wredden.
Director: Scott Le Crass.
Designer: Sunny Jeon.
Lighting: Cat Carter.
Sound: Kirsty Gilmore.
Associate director: Amy Gwilliam.