2 Short Russians

2 Short Russians
Vodka, Fucking and Television by Maksym Kurochkin and The Bear by Anton Chekhov. 5pound theatre. Director/Designer: Jason Cavanagh. The Owl and Pussycat, Richmond. May 28 – June 28, 2013.

The Bear is a beautifully crafted piece of writing and a lovely introduction to Chekhov as a writer of comedies. This staging is just delightful with all three actors excelling. What it may lack in precision is made up for with energy commitment and a very real grasp, and expression, of instinctive truth.

A couple of years ago I was sent to review a production of The Bear and was unable to complete the task as I found the whole way to serious and precious and possibly, on retrospect, slow and labored.  Not so this production - it is fast and furious and hilarious. Jack Beeby sets the scene with a youthful interpretation of a cynical aged manservant Luka, with just a hint of clown.

Propova, a recently widowed woman of some property, is the type of role that Susannah Firth inhabits very satisfyingly on the surface whilst realizing the subtext with subtle nuance. And Dmitri Pronin just is The Bear – no question.

Vodka, Fucking &Television is just as fascinating as it promises to be, with staging that is nothing short of inspired. As Hero, Jack Beeby fights with his existential angst in trying to modify his life by eliminating one of his fabric of sustaining, yet at times debilitating, pleasures. These addictive supports are portrayed as personas that ‘arc up against’ being rejected and fight for supremacy.  I do have a small ‘beef’ with this production, in that, to my sensibilities Lust is ill cast. Clare Callow certainly interprets the character strongly and appropriately and is sexy, but her voluptuousness somehow defines her as a seductress of a much earlier era and thus dates a relatively contemporary work. This is a tiny quibble in another great night at the Owl and Pussycat.

It is a rewarding pleasure to follow 5pound’s offerings.

Suzanne Sandow

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