(Kent’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/29.)
Portmanteau seasons often seem to me more of an exercise in marketing than they are in art. “Thank God,” we used to say, when I ran a theatre, “we can call it the French Season.” Or the Father and Son Season. Or whatever tenuous link we could find between disparate plays. A sort of theatrical forced marriage. I doubt if it ever sold tickets, but it cheered up the marketing department no end.
However the Young Chekhov season is different. It charts the evolution of genius and, with The Seagull, the birth of 20th century theatre, and by extension our contemporary stage. Three plays – Platonov, Ivanov and The Seagull – are performed in repertoire by the same company of 23 actors in revelatory and dazzling adaptations by David Hare, who has reshaped and refashioned them, while remaining entirely true to their subversive spirit. We did productions of both Platonov and Ivanov when I was at the Almeida, and it was always our intention to complete the trilogy. However, life got in the way and now, 15 years later, it’s a rare and great opportunity to at last put them together.