By Chekhov, Bach, Berio and Tchaikovsky. Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord / Sydney Festival. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. January 22 – 25, 2014.
Chekhov’s solo monologue, On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco, begins with an old man, a smoker, berated by his wife to give a free lecture on that subject. Nioukhine instead wanders through tangents about his bullying wife, his petty jobs slaving at her music school and his, typically Chekhovian, yearning to escape. .
By adding Nioukhine’s three daughters onstage, as a singer, pianist and violinist, France’s Theatre des Bouffes du Nord transforms this tale into a theatrical and musical gem.