Thursday, 13 November 2008

HOT: Ivanov, Donmar West End, Wyndhams Theatre, Charing Cross Road WC2H 0DA

The first of Donmar's star-studded West End productions is a new version of Chekhov's classic Ivanov, written by Tom Stoppard and starring Kenneth Branagh. Firstly, Tom: For me the English drawing room 'old chap' inflexions really sat at odds with the obviously Russian setting of the drama, and Ivanov's particularly Russian brand of moroseness. Therefore, I would have preferred a straight-down-the-line translation of the original Chekhov text, but I think I'm in the minority. Secondly, Kenneth: His portrayal of Ivanov's spiralling despair was riveting and I was most impressed when he delivered his twisting monologues with such great clarity, believable passion and a finely-judged sense of light and shade. His consummate skill as an actor was further heightened in his scenes with the doctor, who was an irritating and over-played 'honest man' line-drawing.

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