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After Chekhov review at Soho Theatre Studio London

Seemingly the only contemporary theatre group to capitalise on the centenary of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov’s death, Little London Theatre Company has sifted through his short stories, plays and personal letters to produce an intimate, sophisticated and enjoyable evening that allows us to get to know the infamous playwright a little better.

Directed by EastEnders’ Dr Legg, aka Leonard Fenton, we are presented with four scenes, which have been cleverly rewritten and arranged to keep both the elegant poetry and bawdy humour of Chekhov’s original lines.

Particularly hilarious is the dual monologue between Stewart Marquis and Kyra Williams. Her caricature acting and the ‘aside’ description paints a picture of everything about women that drove Chekhov up the wall, thus allowing us a closer perception of the man himself, rather than knowledge of him merely through his words. Martin Jago and Alexander McConnell do the same through their complaints about tea in two different scenes. It is a theme picked up from the original plays but which brings the man rather than just his lines to life.

We see Chekhov the crude, the blatant, the shocking, the sensitive. We learn about his poor roots, his convalescence and affairs, how Stanislavski turned his plays – which he thought merry – into heart-breaking dramas of gut-wrenching misery.

It is an intelligent and sensitive approach and there is a clear joy in the actors’ intimacy with this master playwright. Despite the sparse scenery – three wooden chairs and a table or two – this stellar cast of excellent classical actors forms a company that clearly understands, both historically and practically, what makes a good and a bad play and a good and bad actor.

Production Information

Soho Theatre Studio, London, December 13,15

Authors
Alan Drury, Martin James, Andrew Neil, Olwen Wymark
Composer
Tom de Keyser
Director
Leonard Fenton
Producer
Little London Theatre Company
Cast
Andrew Neill, Anna Barry, Martin Jago, Stewart Marquis, Alexander McConnell, Gilbert Vernon, Kyra Williams, Tracey Wood
Running time
1hr 10mins
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