by Anton Chekhov new version by Anya Reiss.
The Lowry (Quays Theatre) Pier 8 Salford Quays M50 3AZ To 8 March 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.15pm Mat Thu 2pm Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 25min One interval.
TICKETS: 0843 208 6010.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 27 February.
Classic and modern together in a fine finale to an artistic regime.
After 27 years running Manchester’s Library Theatre Artistic Director Chris Honer leaves it on the way to its new Home. He took over a decent repertory company, and built its reputation by an accessible, high quality repertoire, its northern flavour evident but never overpowering, with work that has always been thoughtful, detailed and honest.
His final production mixes old and new; a classic, in an English version by a recent teenage Royal Court wunderkind, still in her twenties.
Honer finds the clarity in Anya Reiss’s tactfully modern script, where hopeful young playwright Konstantin’s open-air play employs computer technology alongside old-fashioned effects.
Every performance is clear and well-considered. At the start Victoria Lloyd’s beautifully delineated Masha, is wearily vulnerable to drink and defeat, while Christopher Wright subdues his skill for comedy as the thoughtful doctor Dorn, anxiety clear as he brings the final revelation.
He and Peter Macqueen’s Sorin, contentedly declining in health, are the happiest generation. The middle generation have yet to learn to live with defeat.
Graeme Hawley’s Trigorin, the popular writer glamorous to the public, cannot avoid dissatisfaction and awareness of his limitations. As his lover Susie Trayling presents established actor Arkadina – for whom there is no obvious modern equivalent in terms of her old-fashioned repertoire and style – as a woman facing the decline of the automatic attraction of elegant youth, with an ever-nervy edge.
Ben Allen’s Konstantin, still starting-out, is ever agitated in his mother’s shadow. But his fate is really sealed by Sophie Robinson’s Irish Nina, from across the water. Running on first in shorts and cycling helmet she’s still a girl, attracted to theatre but taking matters lightly. By the end, city life and professional theatre have bruised her into womanhood, and the extent to which she’s overtaken him is the final blow to Konstantin, whose plays now mean nothing to him.
Judith Croft’s set for a company leaving its Salford residency occupies the Quays stage increasingly each act. A neat joke. Principally, though, the clarity, incisiveness and theatrical pace are a tribute to Honer’s production, exemplifying his years as artistic leader of this company.
Masha: Victoria Lloyd.
Medvedenko: Tom McHugh.
Sorin: Peter Macqueen.
Konstantin: Ben Allen.
Nina: Sophie Robinson.
Polina: Meriel Scholfield.
Dorn: Christopher Wright.
Shamrayev: David Crellin.
Arkadina: Susie Trayling.
Trigorin: Graeme Hawley.
Director: Chris Honer.
Designer: Judith Croft.
Lighting: Nick Richings.
Sound/Composer: Jon Nicholls.
Assistant director: Elisa Amesbury.