THE LOST ONES
by Maxim Gorky
translated by Cathy Porter.
Jermyn Street Theatre, 26b Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6ST to 1 July 2017.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr 15mins One interval/
TICKETS: 020 7287 2875.
Review: William Russell 12 June.
A country and a family destroyed
The action takes place in 1905 in the aftermath of the revolution when the tsarist police are engaged in dealing with the terrorists and the streets are full of gangs attacking Jews, students and socialists. Written three years after The Lower Depths staged impressively recently at the Arcola it was performed only once during Gorky’s lifetime. In 1993 it was presented in at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in this its first English translation and this is its UK premier.
This strongly cast production is the last to be directed at Jermyn Street by the current Artistic Director Anthony Biggs and he undeniably goes out on a high note. It is a difficult, sprawling play in which the Kolomiitsev family tear themselves apart in a struggle to survive in a world collapsing round them and Biggs has secured fine performances from his cast. Ivan, powerfully played by Daragh O’Malley, is a retired police chief, a corrupt and cruel man who has accused a young man of trying to kill him – he has simply named the nearest person at the time – and is hoping to get a new job in the police. His wife, a terrific performance from Louise Gold, has a secret – their daughter Lyubov, who is crippled, was fathered by her brother in law Yakov, the man she really loved. She also wants him to own up to the fact that the boy is innocent.
Annabel Smith as Lyubov is splendidly tense and angry with the world and the damage done to her – she is crippled because Ivan dropped her as a baby – and even angrier when she discovers her real father is Yakov, played by Tim Woodward, the weak rich uncle who keeps them all afloat with loans and gets no thanks in return.
The other children are as mixed up as can be, selfish and corrupt, with the youngest daughter Vera a romantic and foolish teenager who sees people as heroic and lives out fantasies, while her teenage brother Peter is naïve and seeking to escape. Kirsten Obank and Andrew Still have a little problem with the roles, possibly because they seem slightly older than one thinks they should be, but when push comes to shove they seize their chances to great effect.
The Last Ones leans to the melodramatic and at times gets perilously close to soap operatics. But it is better than that. The acting by the entire cast lifts the play when it tends towards making one agree with the character who announces – “Everyone in this house is insane.”
It is not as good as The Lower Depths, Gorky’s masterpiece, but it is a play worth discovering and Biggs and his cast ensure that it is also worth seeing.
Ivan Kolomiitsev: Daragh O’Malley.
Sonya, his wife: Louise Gold.
Alexander, his son: Tom Colley.
Peter, his son: Andrew Still.
Nadia, his daughter: Emily Woodward.
Lyubov, his daughter: Annabel Smith,
Vera, his daughter: Kirsten Obank.
Yakov, his brother: Tim Woodward.
Mrs Sokolova: Gillian Kirkpatrick.
Dr Lesch, Nadia’s husband: David Burt.
Yakorev, a police constable: Omar Baroud.
Fedosia, the family nurse: Maroussia Frank
Director: Anthony Biggs.
Designer: Cecilia Trono.
Costume Designer: Gregor Donnelly.
Lighting Designer: Sherry Coenen.
Sound Designer: Yvonne Gilbert.
Assistant Director: Esme Hicks.