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In and Out of Chekhov’s Shorts (Susan Elkin reviews)

In and Out of Chekhov’s Shorts
Anton Chekhov adapted by Eliot Giuralarocca. Presented by Dragonboy Productions
performance date: 14 Sep 2019
venue: Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London SE10 8ES

Photos: Jeremy Banks Photography


Adapted by Eliot Giuralarocca from five of Chekhov’s short stories this is a compelling, original and often funny two hours of theatre with five actor musicians. And it makes for unusual artistic cohesion when both the adapter/director and the composer/MD (Tom Neill) are also in the cast. It flows along like a well oiled machine.

Chekhov, as his famous great plays show, was a shrewd observer of human life and that comes through powerfully in these stories in which the bored wife/tedious husband idea recurs several times. The longest and most developed story is The Lady with a Little Dogwhich straddles the interval. Guiralarocca, a talented actor, playing a doctor on holiday on his own, meets Elisabeth Snegir’s lady – who wants desperately to be virtuous but ….- and her dog, nicely imagined on the end of a lead. It gets stroked, it snuffles about and it barks. Snegir Is also a good singer (no radio mikes) and plays several instruments.

There’s also delightful work from Laura Singleton too. She can do terrific things with her face and her native Welsh accent especially in The Bear as she becomes more and more manic and randy. Tom Neill and Graeme Dalling are both accomplished actors and take, between them, dozens of other parts as well as playing instruments. Dalling is particularly funny framed as the dead husband in The Bear.

I like the way Tom Neill’s music supports the story telling in this show. It never feels less than integrated and there’s some rather lovely choral Russian part-singing which fits the mood and period perfectly.

So does Charlotte McClelland’s subdued lighting and Victoria Spearing’s set is very ingenious indeed. She uses sheets pegged up (which sometimes have shadow action behind), homespun wooden items (a cart and a mini platform) which covert to other things and, at one point collapsible furniture. It looks very simple and it’s certainly low tech but actually it’s quite complex and very skilfully thought out.

I saw this show on a sunny Saturday afternoon and I am sad to note that the audience was a bit sparse. That’s a pity because this is well worth seeing. I hope they get the better houses they deserve at other performances and tour venues.


First published by Sardines:

Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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