‘Platonov’ is Chekhov at his most raw, his most open, his most bare.
Chekhov examines the tensions between great love and lesser love. He allows his characters to tread on their hearts while he tugs at their strings.
At the centre of this drama, he leaves Mikhail Platonov- a young, middle-class intellectual ridden with restlessness.
The women around him are seduced by his liberality, but when they discover that what Platonov offers is not an alternate life but a darker existence plagued by cynicism, they are forced to reevaluate- often in the most brutal of ways.
This production, adapted and directed by Anthony Skuse, recontextualises the play from its rigid Russian origins to a more familiar setting. It is fresh and modern, and doesn’t shy away from Chekhov’s bold intentions. Chekhov highlights the boredom and monotony of Russian country life, and Skuse likens it to our unsettled and desire-driven world of today.
To accompany Skuse’ adaptation, Cat Dibley’s costume design is contemporary and easy-going. It didn’t feel forced or contrived, but rather made the production all the more fluid.
The folk music performed by the cast was moving, magical. It was a clever homage to Chekhov’s time and a thoughtful thoroughfare between the two contexts.
The space at ATYP was well used, with the actors performing between two banks of seating. It forced us to keep the other audience in view, and never fully released us from our present reality.
Chris Page’s lighting design was minimal but striking. The use of industrial lighting accompanied the weight of the play well and the spotlights were use appropriately.
Charlie Garber fit sublimely into the role of Platonov. He was easy-going and quick-witted and able to bear the brunt of the play on his shoulders. Playing his wife, Matilda Ridgway gave an endearing performance- she can be simple and naïve and sweet, and yet her strength and sensitivity is captivating.
Geraldine Hakewill also gave a charming performance in the role of Platonov’s early lover, Sofya, whom he returns to. She was delicate and deliberate in her performance. And to lift the weight of these characters, Jason Perini as Burov is unforgettable. Even in a smaller role he makes each moment memorable
The production breathes new life into Chekhov’s writing. It explores each angle and stretches it out to its full potential. Anthony Skuse and his committed cast gave ‘Platonov’ a second chance in life and love.