23 September 2008

Ivanov by Chekhov in a translation from Tom Stoppard

Pyotr- John Atterbury
Gavrila - Jonathan Battersby
Natalia - Emma Beattie
Ivanov - Kenneth Branagh
Babakina - Lucy Briers
Avdotya - Linda Broughton
Borkin - Lorcan Cranitch
Anasim - Ian Drysdale
Lipa - Giovanna Falcone
Lvov - Tom Hiddleston
Nikander - James Howard
Zinaida - Sylvestra Le Touzel
Anna Petrovna - Gina Mckee
Lebedev - Kevin R McNally
Yacob - Malcolm Ridley
Sasha - Andrea Riseborough
Shabelsky - Malcolm Sinclair
Kosykh - James Tucker

directed by Michael Grandage
designed by Christopher Oram

At the Wyndham's Theatre during the premiere run of this new translation. H17
There must have been a few actors in the audience but all I noticed was Andrew Marr

This is one of those productions which I think will be best served if I just post links to the reviews that concur with my feelings......and there will be many, I'm sure.

A great deal of the credit for this must go to Tom Stoppard for making such an hilarious and accessible text and Michael Grandage knows how to use this kind of work to it's best advantage. I felt much the same as I did after The Chalk Garden. A perfect combination of every element that makes a production remarkable. We all want to laugh when we are entertained. Even in the piteous moments of a drama, it can be best and most pointedly conveyed by humour and Tom Stoppard knows exactly how and when to use this. The meticulous selection of the cast, the set design and the general pacing of this piece is down to Michael Grandage's care and expertise. This is the kind of production where an A list actor would take a walk-on part. Gina McKee has so little time on stage and so few lines but the two thirds of the plot hangs around her race and health so ever second with her counts.

After the curtain raises to a brooding Ken the pace and mood of the production is instantly set by Lorcan and his antics. He has the audience rolling around within seconds of opening his mouth. Kevin matches this performance with a delicate degree of tenderness added to his energetic humour. Poor Tom Hiddleston is perfect in the role but thereby is excluded from any of the merriment. You have to admire Andrea for her stamina. She had one of the main roles in the reading I saw earlier tonight and then skips around the stage for a couple more hours here. I find her 'posh' southern English accent reminds me too much of her Margaret Thatcher sound and with all the will in the world, I don't find her to be the beauty I imagined in this role but she has the perfect level of vivacity for this character.

I could waffle on for hours but I am going to seek out the reviews and finally read what the clever people had to say....

....I'll add these as I go. The Guardian takes it's time to sum things up quite nicely. A couple of rather pedantry comments but generally makes the points I'd like to remember. They also published a piece on Ken.

Charles Spencer has some worthy things to say but it would seem that this production is so richly complete in all departments that the critics have all been forced to come up with similar copy but finally, I am going to include The Independent review from Paul Taylor.