"Cue For Some Chekhov Stand-Up?"
by Saul Reichlin on 14/05/11

Perhaps it is self congratulatory to think that another evening of adapted Chekhov short stories comes in response to this reviewer's suggestion that there was room for some more 'Naughty Chekhov', Theatre Collection's delightful first dive into these waters.

Celebration of 150 years of Chekhov's birth brings to this North London stage a collection of some previously un-translated Chekhov short stories. The plentiful supply of these has provided wonderful material again, and in Shaban Arifi's maiden production for the company he co-founded, he has also taken the plunge into adaptation for the purpose of providing some 'world premiere' content. He describes it as an opportunity to see 'the other side' of Chekhov - with dark humour, social satire and naughty farces. Quoting Chekhov in his programme: 'If you are afraid of loneliness, do not marry', Shaban captures, in signature Theatre Collection style, an evening of wit, energy and comic skill.

If there were more time and perhaps a couple of quid to be spared actors devoting themselves to their art, experimenting with the work might see talented artists achieve more of what they so clearly are capable of. Some rebalancing of timing, sketch length and emphasis could then see really wonderful entertainment, but this does not mean that anything less than quality was delivered.

Taking the performance honours are the women in this production. In a strong company, the versatile Cristina Lazaro, as Irina, was a picture of sexy fun selling high powered rifles, and later on a train, and in a super bit of tragi-comedy (again as an Irina) in a heart rending claim for the jewellery her husband has given away, a sketch superbly shared by Edita Floren. Also making the train sketch a super piece of visual comedy was Rebecca Black and Angelica Ryder. Zoe Ford's work as Muraskhkina and Lida in two sketches was a pleasure to watch.

This most enterprising of companies brings yet another lovely piece of theatre to The Lord Stanley. Congratulations to Mr Arifi and his cast.

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