Anton Chekhov’s Vaudevilles
Anton Chekhov’s Vaudevilles is a collection of four plays / short stories which have been translated and adapted by Michael Frayn (whose plays include Noises Off). It’s an interesting choice of plays (which together play for just over an hour). The first, Drama, is a woman attempting to get feedback on a play by a writer she adores. The Evils of Tobacco is a man ruminating on his life. The first two are the weaker scripts but are saved by Jenny Eastop’s excellent direction.
Where the production comes to life is in the following two plays.
This starts with The Inspector General, which begins with some clever direction introducing us to a cart driver’s horse. This is about said cart driver who is taking a traveller to the neighbouring town. The play is driven (excuse the pun) by Sam Denia as the cart driver discussing the Inspector General with his passenger and is pitch perfect in his delivery of the intelligent script. He is a joy to watch and captures the audiences attention throughout.
The final play is The Proposal which is by far the wittiest of them all. The three actors work together with perfect timing to build up to a hilarious crescendo. Throughout this the direction used every opportunity to pull out the physical comedy alongside the script. While all three actors perform well, Sam Denia shines in the role. He has the most differentiated characters across the plays and is excellent as each.
The direction works well and is great at keeping the audience engaged as we move between the plays. It’s unfortunate that the first two plays were so weak, especially compared to the stronger ending. But for the latter two plays it’s worth seeing and will more than raise a smile.
It plays at the White Bear Theatre until
October 30th. Buy tickets here.
Rating: 3 Stars