Sons Without Fathers is Chekhov’s first play and one of his lesser known works. This new adaptation centres on the life of a young teacher and his friends, one of many themes in the original play.

Friends of Mikhail Platonov arrive for a surprise party without the guest of honour there. The gathering is a varied mix of characters. Throughout the play we see how the relationships develop, a tangled web is woven and lives are destroyed.

The performances are nothing short of captivating. The tormented soul of Platonov laid bare by Jack Laskey, his loyal and innocent wife Sasha beautiful portrayed by Amy McAllister and the self assured rich student Vengerovich given a confident and arrogant air by Oliver Hoare. Everyone on the stage shows a depth of characterisation that is a joy to watch. It is nice to see four local actors joining the professionals in this production. 

Although originally set in Russia in the late 19th Century, the themes of living following times of cultural upheaval are still relevant. This leads to this production being set in modern times. The set design is striking, effective yet simple. Clever use of projection and evocative lighting add to the bold aluminium wall and red floor to create a visually exciting set.

The use of music as an underscore was a pleasing addition, the music echoed the mood of the scene as different people paid a visit to the quieter back room at the party.  The majority of the sound effects extended the creation of the scene from a rain storm to a forest in the early hours. It was in the forest though that crackle on the soundtrack occasionally masked the bird song.

As this production is in the B2 studio you are closer to the action, this gives an intimate feel and draws you deeper into the story.  This play leaves you questioning your feelings for the characters and the motives behind their actions. An engaging production not to be missed.

 - Annette Nuttall