Chekhov remixed as a highly entertaining divertissement
This article is from 2011.
Four dapperly dressed men cavort with the stage dressings, dance with each other and utter one-liners with a Wildean frivolity. The members of LA’s Theatre Movement Bazaar are so diverting with their antics that this play’s relation to Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya is at first not clear.
Then the scenes of dialogue start and even with the female characters omitted (except as offstage apparitions) the plot emerges easily and faithfully. Like viewing the text through a kaleidoscope it is not so much deconstructed as given a makeover, where the original themes (regret, dissatisfaction, bankrupt dreams) remain untouched.
By removing the women Elena becomes even more abstractly symbolic of each character’s desires. Their search for her mirrors the playful game of hide and seek embarked upon by the audience as they are led on a twisty turny journey through the source material and invited to look at it afresh.
Prior knowledge of the play is not necessary; this remix is entertaining in its own right. TMB succeed in creating a joyfully absorbing riddle where the head-scratching journey is as much reward as any conclusions.
Bedlam Theatre, 225 9893, until 27 Aug, 2pm, £7–£9 (£5–£7).