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Because what the Net really needs is another person sharing his uninformed views
Theatre review: Ivanov 
25th-Sep-2008 11:44 pm
tragicomedavatar
The Donmar Warehouse opens its year-long residency at Wyndham's with Kenneth Branagh as Chekhov's Hamlet-inspired Ivanov (and will come full circle at the end of the season with Branagh directing Jude Law in Hamlet.) Of course, this being early Chekhov, it's less "To be or not to be" and more "Ah, fuck it, Not To Be."

Michael Grandage's production has two draws for denizens of this blog - as well as Branagh himself for the Potter crowd of course, for the Being Human fans there's Andrea Riseborough as Sasha. Her accent here may be upper-class but there's no mistaking the rapid-fire delivery of some very funny lines. In fact Tom Stoppard's translation of the play focuses on bringing out the humour in a melodrama where you don't necessarily expect it (Chekhov somewhat bafflingly described some of his plays as comedies, but Ivanov isn't one of them) and it does work. The stage is littered with grotesque characters and running jokes, while in the middle of it all Branagh's Ivanov has his quiet but steady nervous breakdown. It's a brave but wise choice to underplay this most of the time while so much madness happens around him, and makes for a powerful performance. A very strong start to the Donmar's cut-price West End season, the theatre was packed which bodes well for the rest of the year's run (especially as this is probably the least obviously commercial of the four plays.)

Ivanov by Anton Chekhov, translated by Tom Stoppard, is booking until the 29th of November at Wyndham's Theatre.
Comments 
25th-Sep-2008 11:44 pm (UTC)
So this was opening night? That means three of the Potter set had their "big" nights tonight! Equus's "official" opening is going on as I type. Wish I were there! Of course, I'd have like to see this with you, too.

Guess I'll have to console myself by getting off here and watching Hollyoaks.
26th-Sep-2008 08:42 am (UTC)
No, the opening night was last week (the reviews have been excellent.) When I say this opens the Donmar's residency at Wyndham's I mean this is the first of four plays with star names they're doing there this year (if you come over here in the Spring you can try to get tickets for Dame Judi Dench in Madame de Sade, or if you're here in the summer you can, like I say, try for Jude Law in Hamlet.)

You'll have to let me know what the Broadway Equus reviews are like.
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26th-Sep-2008 08:44 am (UTC)
Yes, all except the third act. Although that was just last night and not the fault of the production - a woman standing at the back fainted so we were somewhat distracted by the ushers running around trying to safely get her out.
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26th-Sep-2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
Oh I think the entire front-of-house staff running to help her made enough noise without me adding to it - I was starting to expect them to draft the actors in to help carry her to the door.
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