By Anton Chekhov, (adapted by Anthony Skuse). The Depot Theatre, Marrickville, NSW. (Secret House) December 6 – 16, 2017
Directed by Anthony Skuse
Anthony Skuse has adapted this four-act work by Anton Chekhov into an almost two-hour production that retains the melancholy of the thwarted ambitions and tortured relationships of his nineteenth century characters yet brings them into a more contemporary frame. And, a multicultural cast using their native dialects, highlights the universality of the themes, especially the depressing effects failure and despair.
New NIDA graduate Kyle Jonsson has designed a set that conjures the ‘grey’ of the Sea of Azov in Chekhov’s homeland by filling the inset stage it with tiny pieces of slate-coloured rubber providing a thick, dark carpet that ripples under the feet of the actors. Whether it symbolises their insecurities or merely the bleakness of the
They are backed by a skilful supporting cast who bring more natural compassion and a little humour to the play.
landscape, it centres the action inside a darkened space and mirrors it in heavy plastic side screens. Liam O’keefe has emphasised the gloom with the shadowy effect of subdued lighting. And the decision to use live sound – the clinking of china, the low ringing of a crystal glass, and the gentle strum of a guitar played by Yakov (Matthew Bartlett) – effectively accentuates the naturalism of the play.
With the ubiquitous chairs that have become symbolic of the opening scenes of The SeagullI, and a table that becomes Nina’s stage, Skuse pushes the pace of the action beyond Chekhov, but still maintains the impending gloom that haunts so many of Chekhov’s characters. And by choosing not to break the performance with an interval, the pervading pessimism of the play suffuses to the audience.
James Smithers as Konstantin takes Chekhov’s tragic hero from youthful optimism and first love…….