Chekhov’s Shorts Greenwich Theatre 11 May

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Blurred whipping of 'The Bear' from trailer on http://www.europeanarts.co.uk and with a different actress

Our readers will surely know that Anton Chekhov started off by writing short pieces for humorous magazines as a medical student in an attempt to make some money.  Very short in some cases.  An advert I saw in the window of the newsagent across the street from the theatre had the air of early Chekhov:

PARACHUTE FOR SALE.  USED ONCE.  UNOPENED.

Anyway, in the theatre itself Anton Pavlovich’s early years were represented by:

The Evils of Tobacco
The Dimwit
The Bear

–Interval–

Swan Song
The Proposal

All of these elicited laughter from an audience that was not in truth over-numerous:  they were timidly clumped together in the hall in the same kind of way that the touring sets found themselves a bit overwhelmed by the space on stage.

To summarise:  these pieces are what we would call sketches (maybe The Bear and The Proposal are a little more substantial than that).  I thought that The Bear was the best and funniest piece–the audiences as a whole sounded as though it agreed–you could see Popova and Smirnov turning into Beatrice and Benedick if they were given a little more time.  A little underplaying would not have come amiss–I think the actors should seem to respond to what’s just happened rather than seeming to come out with what they were going to say anyway.  The Proposal was funny too, but the panic of everything being about to fall apart was somehow missing.

But certainly worth a visit!

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