Wednesday, 9 March 2011

An Evening With Chekhov, La Mama, March 9, 2011

An Evening With Chekhov ***
The Bear by Anton Chekhov, The Bet adapted from Chekhov by Fiona Macys Marzo
 La Mama, until March 20, 2011
Reviewed by: Kate Herbert on March 9, 2011

Russian playwright, Anton Chekhov, with director, Constantin Stanislavski, changed the face of 20th century theatre with his controversial, naturalistic style described as “scenes from country life”.

Chekhov is renowned for his pithy, short stories and his full-length plays. An Evening With Chekhov, directed by Olga Makeeva, features his short play, The Bear, a comic romance that could be the plot of a Russian sit com. It is paired with an adaptation of his quirky, short story, The Bet.

Daniel Frederiksen is both repulsive and attractive as Smirnov, the boorish, grain salesman who bullies his way into the home of the beautiful, reclusive widow, Popova (Fiona Macys Marzo) to reclaim a debt. Frederiksen brings a cheekily modern edge to Smirnov. His performance is dangerous and magnetic and he addresses the audience directly, breaking the fourth wall in a distinctly non-Chekhovian way.

The Bet has a disturbing premise. A young man (Brett Ludeman) makes a wager with a wealthy banker (Eugene Schlusser). If he spends 15 years in voluntary, solitary confinement, the banker will pay him two million roubles. The story forces the characters and audience to address the value of human contact, or earthly things, possessions, learning, books and money.

The two pieces provide an insight into Chekhov’s exceptional talent.


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