A five-star evening most of the way. Katie Mitchell's production, like her earlier Chekhov work, is full of meticulous fine-brush work. She finds so much in the text. Excellent performances, some of them quite outstanding I felt.
The set was breathtaking in its realism (great rain! great snow!), and the atmospheric lighting chimed in with the whole.
For me the problem was Act 3, in the bedroom, where the decision to dispense with Chekhov's stage directions involving screens combined with the excessive width of the wide-screen stage to dilute the impact of what is usuallt the strongest scene in the play. I was troubled that Chebutykin addressed his drunken tirade directly to Olga. I didn't believe that.
But a great event for the most part.
Job - USER: Whatsonstage.com (18.104.22.168)
10 Oct 03
A remarkable production, serious and solid and incredibly moving. I took 14 students, who were amazed that 3 1/2 hours passed so effortlessly: they were completely absorbed in Chekhov's drama. A splendid occasion. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (22.214.171.124)
28 Sep 03
What a captivating, poignant and generally marvellous production at the National. I was thoroughly captivated (leg cramp aside) by this 3 and a half hour production of Chekhov’s play in a wonderfully human version with so much meaning by Nicholas Wright and Directed beautifully by Katie Mitchell. Thank God the National is doing such wonderful work, and I don’t care if it was done at the playhouse this summer, this is in a totally different league of artistic beauty.
- USER: Whatsonstage.com (126.96.36.199)
24 Sep 03
I'm amazed by all these positive reviews. All I could hear from the people sitting around me was how awful it was. One poor old lady in the front row claimed it made her feel like never seeing Chekov again. My own feeling? The stage was poorly laid out, with too much action pushed back to the rear of the stage and with objects along the fourth wall (chairs, flower displays, a bed) often blocking visibility. The casting was mostly little better than adequate and the play lacked the nuance required for profundity. The final 15 minutes were laughable when they should have been painful for far different reasons. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (188.8.131.52)
15 Aug 03
A remarkable evening.Like watching butterflies pinned down, deluding themselves about escaping their fate, and the more they move the more they hurt.The play starts in the sunshine of illusion,Irina 18 birthday,moving to the dusk and nights of people trying and failing to find their Moscow.Finally the rain, a seal,gently pinning down the helpless butterflies.Seldom have three and half hours seemed so brief. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (184.108.40.206)
13 Aug 03
This is one of the finest Chekhov productions that I have seen in over 30 years of theatregoing. Katie Mitchell enables you to understand every nuance of the play. Although it is three and a half hours, it is not a minute too long as the audience is drawn in so fully to the world of the play. The performances are remarkable. Above all, the production and the acting enable the audience to appreciate why this is one of the greatest plays ever written. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (220.127.116.11)
13 Aug 03
I loved this production- yes it was hard work at times but the performances are fantastic and the direction soo detailed- I'm definately going to see it again - USER: Whatsonstage.com (18.104.22.168)
13 Aug 03
Wonderful, wonderful production. A crystal clear (and slightly altered) new version by Nicholas Wright, exquisitely acted and directed - a magnificent piece of ensemble work. A lengthy evening, but every moment is brilliantly played - felt like a fly on the wall; EXACTLY how Chekhov should be done. I can't praise it enough - 10 out of 10 to Katie Mitchell for a terrific follow-up to her unforgettable 'Ivanov' last year, and full marks to the National for another extraordinary night of tip-top theatre in an all round awesome season!
- USER: Whatsonstage.com (22.214.171.124)
08 Aug 03
great night out. A period drama which was really enjoyable. Couldn't of picked a better night to escape from the heat into the luxury of the NT's aircon too. The set especially in the first half was most impressive , the story great & the acting top class. If I had a slight criticism I'd say the Irina actor's voice was not strong
enough( had to strain to hear her) & the Kulygin role ( the teacher ) was a
watery performance. But overall couldn't have been more satisified
- USER: Whatsonstage.com (126.96.36.199)
07 Aug 03
It's quite a brave production...the director takes the theme of time and really explores it, which makes it quite long and slow, but fascinating...it may speed up over the next few days but not too much I hope as that's partly the point. The cast is, as you would expect from the cast list, excellent. I saw the Playhouse production too and I would say that that production was jollier and less demanding on the audience's patience, but very much less interesting. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (188.8.131.52)
05 Aug 03
The set design pushes most of the action to the back of the stage through an alcove, even a dancing sequence is staged with the actors as the audience with their backs to us, blocking most of the view. I gave up halfway through and went and enjoyed the much more exciting entertainment outside the National - USER: Whatsonstage.com (184.108.40.206)
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