By Scott Williamson
A play by Anton Chekov, adapted by award winning playwright Simon Stephens, directed by Katie Mitchell, playing at The Young Vic theatre, Southwark.
In this condensed four act adaptation, performed in one sitting, the Young Vic Company delivers a stark and emotive performance, portraying the hopelessness of fighting against change.
Entirely set within the former nursery of Ranevskaya’s drowned young son, the set décor is dark and dilapidated, indicative of the financial situation of the family. The lighting direction of James Farncombe, relies on the perception of natural light. The use of dimmed wall sconces, and blinds over the windows, allows the lighting levels to change in line with the plot.
Kate Duchene, a Mitchell regular, is well cast as the volatile Lyubov Ranevskaya. Forward-looking but also with a pained attachment to the past, Dominic Rowan is superb as Alexander Lopakhin. Although I found Catrin Stewart quite abrupt in her delivery, her portrayal of Anya, Ranevskaya’s youngest daughter, was well presented, her pursuit of both the socially mobile businessman Lopakhin and the eternal student Trofimov, was hesitant but believable.
Mitchell’s direction has produced a polished performance. The offset dialogue is well presented, and adds to the plays atmosphere. The dialogue throughout, is clear even when the actors are facing away from the audience. As with Chekov plays, some of the dialogue is comic, aimed directly at the audience, and produces some relief to the bleak situation of the play.