Tag Archives: Anton Chekhov

Brian Friel’s AFTERPLAY @ OLD 505

Wayne Bassett and Emma Skelton star in Brian Friel’s AFTERLIFE

Chekhov is such a specific playwright that he even has an adjective. However, AFTERPLAY, which is part of the Sydney Fringe and playing at Old 505, avoids being Chekhovian despite the characters having been pulled from lives created by the Russian master of Realism. Unlike many of the reverentially comic interpretations of the Chekhov canon, this production has many laugh-out-loud moments.

Sonya is the smart, plain niece of UNCLE VANYA and Andrey is the dissolute, disillusioned brother of the THREE SISTERS. In a post-revolutionary Russian café twenty years after we last saw them, then in the environment created by their master, we meet them again: this time shaped by a modern master. They don’t know that they share a maker but there is a connection wrought of loneliness and the experience of their younger selves. Continue reading Brian Friel’s AFTERPLAY @ OLD 505

The Present @ Roslyn Packer Theatre

Inset pic- Toby Schmitz and Cate Blanchett. Featured pic- Richard Roxburgh and Cate Blanchett. Production pics by Lisa Tomasetti
Inset pic- Toby Schmitz and Cate Blanchett. Featured pic- Richard Roxburgh and Cate Blanchett. Production pics by Lisa Tomasetti

It was a thrill to be present at the opening night of THE PRESENT at the Roslyn Packer theatre. Expectations were high, and they were more than met with Irish auteur John Crowley’s production of Anton Chekhov’s first play variously titled Ivanov, Platanov, Fatherlessness, A Play Without A Title in a new adaptation/reworking  by Andrew Upton.

As I reflected on the night in the car going home,  I was comparing the excitement to going to a major sporting event where so many excellent players are on show…like seeing Manchester United at the Football Stadium. Continue reading The Present @ Roslyn Packer Theatre

On The Harmful Effects of Tobacco

Tobacco-inset
Michel Robin delivered a memorable performance in this inter-disciplinary retelling of Anton Chekhov’s quirky one Act play

This Theatre Des Bouffes Du Nord production combined a quirky Chekhov one act play with classical French comedic theatre techniques along with powerful classical music to bring off a great night’s entertainment.

The quality of the musicianship was superb – Floriane Bonnani (Violin and Original Concept), Muriel Ferraro (Soprano) and Emmanuelle Swiercz (Piano) set a high standard for their playing of the Bach, Tchaikovsky and Berio pieces.   Continue reading On The Harmful Effects of Tobacco

Antony Skuse on PLATANOV

The cast in rehearsal for PLATANOV to play the ATYP Studio theatre in November
A talented young cast take on PLATANOV, the Russian master’s first full-length play

I recently had a chat with Anthony Skuse who is adapting and directing the upcoming production of Anton Chekhov’s PLATANOV (1878) which is moving into the ATYP Studio theatre in early November.

Skuse spoke of how the great Russian playwight wrote this work, his first full length piece, when he was only 21 years old. The piece was originally untitled and is also known as Fatherlessness and A Play Without A Title.

A sensitive young writer, he had the play locked in his desk drawer for many years, wary of showing it to anyone, in fear of rejection.

“The piece is a bit of a messy, sprawling work. If it was produced in its raw form it would run for about five hours. I have kept the play in its original setting and time period (Russia in 1881) but have cut the play back to a couple of hours and reduced the number of characters from twenty to fifteen, each part played by a different actor.

“PLATANOV is very much a work by a young writer. Chekhov puts everything into it. His love of theatre comes through very clearly. The themes espoused in the play are themes that Chekhov would explore throughout his career.”

The play follows a group of intense young people, led by the main character Platanov at a very touchy point in their lives. In their twenties, they are seeing the passion and idealism of youth become more and more tempered by the coldness and harshness of life experience. This has led them to feel disillusioned, even more to the point angry, that life isn’t turning out they want it to.

“I expect that audiences will have quite a strong and personal reaction to this production. I want it to be an intimate production. How I want people to experience the show is that it will be like they are seeing these young people’s lives, relationships and where things go wrong played out in front of them,

“Last year we workshopped the piece and one of the women who saw it said, “Oh my God, I feel like I am seeing my life before me.”

Skuse says that rehearsals are going really well, and that there has been a great atmosphere in the room working with some of the finest young acting talent in Sydney. The cast includes actors of the calibre of Charlie Garber, Geraldine Hakewill, Matilda Ridgway, Terry Karabelas and Sam Trotmen

Stage and screen actor Garber plays the title role, a character who sounds very intriguing. He is a laid back provincial school teacher who women are irresistibly drawn to even though he is not exactly single. Included amongst his female admirers are a widowed landowner, her younger stepdaughter, and an earnest chemistry student.

In an interesting aside, Skuse told me that he was happy to be able to put on the show now before the Sydney Theatre Company produce their own mainstream production of PLATANOV, in a new adaptation by STC Artistic Director Andrew Upton titled THE PRESENT, in August next year, starring Richard Roxburgh and Cate Blanchett.

Put this show in your diary. It looks like it will be worth seeing. A Cat Nip and Mophead production, Anthony Skuse’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s PLATANOV is playing at the ATYP Studio Theatre, previewing on the 5th and 6th November, opening on the 7th and then playing until the 22nd November. Performances are Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7pm and Sunday matinees at 5pm.

The Guide has two double passes to give away, if you can make either of the two preview nights. Be one of the first to email the editor on:-editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com.