Review: Young Chekhov – Platonov, National Theatre


“Whatever you do, don’t rely on your own judgement. That’s the worst mistake you could make

Platonov wasn’t performed in Chekhov’s lifetime and even in this radically adapted version by David Hare, I’m not 100% sure that it works. You can see the attraction in terms of the Young Chekhov context – a trilogy of the Russian’s early work – but for me, the main pleasure comes in seeing the benchmark from which his later genius advanced.

It’s not for lack of trying from Jonathan Kent’s production, lead by a sparkling performance of disreputable charisma from James McArdle as an unhappily married teacher intent on spreading his vodka-fuelled discontent through the bedsheets of most of the local community, not least Nina Sosanya’s Anna and Olivia Vinall’s Sofya, with little care for the impact of his actions.

Finding out that he wanted to be tragicomedian, Chekhov’s work here is definitely on the raw side, too often farcical rather than fiercely felt, the counterpointing influences of Hamlet and Don Juan overstating the quality of the writing on either sides in all honesty. For myself, I wouldn’t recommend seeing this on its own, just as part of the 3-show day, when the reasons for its inclusion become manifestly clear. 

Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 8th October

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