Review Round-Ups

Critics enjoy 'illuminating' Young Chekhov

Jonathan Kent’s Chekhov trilogy opened at the Chichester Festival Theatre last week

Adrian Lukis in The seagull
Adrian Lukis in The seagull
© Johan Persson

Michael Coveney, WhatsOnStage


"Jonathan Kent's productions of all three plays reveal scenes of anger, despair and penury, muddled love lines, impulsive affairs, insults and bad behaviour, suicide, comical crossed wires and, perhaps most surprisingly, a developing fascination with theatrical form."

"In almost eight hours of theatre, on Tom Pye's permanent open stage setting of sloping bare boards, a forest of trees and a watery surround, it's as though we've sliced through a segment of mid-19th century Russian provincial life."

"The whole project surely deserving of a life beyond Chichester."

Michael Billington, The Guardian


"Sir David Hare has long cherished the dream of charting Anton Chekhov's progress by bringing together three of his earliest plays: Platonov (1880), Ivanov (1887) and The Seagull (1896). Seen in a single day, Jonathan Kent's masterly productions bring out the parallels."

"Platonov, a charismatic schoolmaster, bounces dizzily between his loving wife, a general's widow and an old flame who is newly married. However much one disapproves of him, he is a magnificently alive creation, beautifully played by James McArdle with a boyish charm and a strong Scottish accent."

"In Samuel West's fine performance, Ivanov is a definably tragic hero: a doomed figure intelligent enough to be aware of the danger of surrendering to a Hamletesque melancholy but incapable of preventing it."

Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph


"This latest venture from theatreland's southern powerhouse is so consistently illuminating, it puts a smile on your face. No barrage of superlatives will do justice to a monumental project that employs 23 of our finest actors, sharing 50 roles."

"The biggest revelation for me is Platonov, which emerges as no mere apprentice piece but a major work in its own right."

"[Olivia] Vinall is one of the brightest stars in the ensemble, later giving Anna Chancellor's ab-fabulously self-preoccupied actress Arkadina a run for her money as Nina in The Seagull."

Ann Treneman, The Times


"What a day! The idea is to present Chekhov's first three plays as a way of tracking his genius. All of them, reinterpreted smoothly by David Hare, were directed with fizz by Jonathan Kent."

"How to survive total-immersion Chekhov? It's easy, as it turns out. Platonov was a revelation. Chekhov never saw this play staged, not least because he wrote the seven hours (!) of material when he was very young. I think he would heartily approve of Hare's pared down version."

"Anna Chancellor (of Four Weddings and a Funeral and so much more) is the scene-stealing vain-glorious actress (and terrible mother) Irina and [Samuel] West is the novelist Boris Trigorin. Both are superb."

Mark Shenton, The Stage


"This inward-looking journey into one man's depression – and its impact on those around him – is charted with a deeply internalised sense of haunting and haunted despair by Samuel West."

"But as much as each involves depression, mental instability and unrequited love, the plays are not in themselves depressing and have plenty to repay our love for them, especially as produced here with such tangible love and feeling."

"The casting throughout is a triumph, too, from such rising younger stars as James McArdle, Joshua James, Olivia Vinall and Nina Sosanya, to long-established actors including Samuel West, Peter Egan, Jonathan Coy and Anna Chancellor who lend their considerable experience to an evening of fully-inhabited life."

Young Chekhov runs at Chichester Festival Theatre until 14 November.