Review: Anton Chekhov’s Vaudevilles, Jermyn Street Theatre

I was not sure what this had to do with vaudeville but an online search shows this is what Chekhov called his early humorous sketches. The three sketches and three adaptations of short stories here are a very sensible choice for a small company like Mercurius who staged this. At around 15 minutes each, there is no time or need for character development, nor is there time to get bored. Translated and adapted by Michael Frayn, the dialogue is very well written and, at times, very funny. Themes from other Chekhov plays run through them, as do echoes of Gogol and Turgenev – the bored country landowner keeping a house guest to amuse him, the widow with a country estate, marital problems and arguments between neighbours about land ownership – but they are generally played as pure comedy rather than tragi-comedy. A light, amusing evening that is essential viewing for anyone who enjoys Chekhov. Previous visitors to the Jermyn Street Theatre will also be please to learn that they now have very comfortable seating. 

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