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Tuesday, 25 August 2015


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There has always been something about Russian authors that left me feeling cold and colorless. The images seemed to be the color of the print on the page. Lacking joy and any purpose, too many characters seemed over burdened with doubt and paralysis.

Ah Whitewall you have to get with the vibe. Russian crap is so in at the moment.

Still given the climate of the place it is no wonder they are so bloody morbid.

Sorry Duffers but my attempts at Chekov have all been dismal failures to even get a third of the way through.

AussieD, you're right. Maybe it was that shiny Red reset button Moll Clinton gave them?

I've only seen one Chekov, the Cherry Orchard. It was years ago and included Derek Jacobi, fresh from I, Clavdivs. It was awful.

"I Clavdivs" - now that was good and was a must sit and watch for the whole family when it first appeared here on "the box". "Cadfael" with Derek Jacobi was also good.

Well there is a fair selection of views which makes my decision to avoid directing Chekhov seem rather wise!

Even so, Gentlemen, he's worth pursuing. The passage above is vintage Chekhov. Three daft women trotting out trite but brave sentiments and sentiments that are searing to them. Then, at the end, Chebutkin, in effect, blows a raspberry! Is he 'speaking' for the author? Chekhov insisted that his plays were comedies. Yeeeees, quite, and that tells you a lot about the Russian sense of humour!

I think Chekhov is worth comparing to Alan Ayckbourn, a truly great British playwright whose plays constantly portray the English middle-classes in all their follies. Being English, his humour is more broad and obvious and we leave the theatre laughing and perhaps it is only later that we think about the underlying tragedy of his tales. With Chekhov, it is the other way around. Unless, of course, you have a brilliant director. And yes, darlings, I am available but only if I have the National Theatre and the pick of the best West End actors. See, just like Olga up above, I can dream!

Oh god, you brought this all back for me! It was one of the first plays I worked on, and I remember those lines, as us ASM's would have done a scurry around to collect up actors and would be waiting with them in the wings. It's rather like herding cats. I remember the best example of this was Hamlet staggering off and collapsing in his dressing room, only to be stirred by my words, "Aren't you supposed to be going back on?". I think the audience might have missed his "To be or not to be" speech.

Chekhov to me is always doom and gloom, mainly because the p*ss takes of it are written like that.

Sorry, Miss Mayfly, I had forgotten that you were one of those 'strict disciplinarians' who drilled us poor actors so unmercifully behind the scenes!

Perhaps Chekhov is indeed all "doom and gloom", and perhaps, given Russian eccentricity, that is what makes them laugh.

I have been reading your memoirs with some interest as it brought back to me my (extremely) short lived theatrical career when serving with an infantry regiment many years ago (the Adjutant fancied himself as a thespian cum producer). I had a walk-on part where as I held a rose to my nose, I had to proclaim, "Ah, the sweet, sweet, smell of my love." The moment, which was supposed to be romantic had the audience laughing hysterically (bloody squaddies). The Adjutant/thespian/ producer was apoplectic. When I asked what the problem was, he replied, "You forgot the bloody rose!"
I auditioned again, many times, but for some reason was never chosen.

Still, Penseivat, at least you remembered your lines which is more than I sometimes did!

How did you get the boot polish out of the sheets?

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