|"Thoughtful Adaptation of Mightiest Classic"|
by Marco Marrese for remotegoat on 25/09/11
Victor Sobchank shows his skills and culture with this intrepid choice to adapt a powerful and rich classic like Anna Karenina to theatre.
The adaptation rightly cuts through the diverse sub-plots of the book to focus on the figure of Anna Karenina and the triangle of social conventions, lust and jealousy. This makes for an enjoyable, smooth and coherent plot that fits comfortably under two hours with interval.
The sub-plots of the novel are either hinted or quickly, but brilliantly, brushed out in the measure they are needed to wink to the connoisseurs of the book (Levin's "peasant ideology", for example) or as a contrast for Anna's story (the other triangle of love between Vronsky, Kitty and Levin), so that the cuts necessary to get a manageable script don't suffocate the richness of the book.
Some actors stand out in this performance. Ian Sharrock interpretation of Alexei Karenin is spot on. Extremely vibrant, he is very natural and convincing as a detached defender of social convention, as a furious husband and as a suffering lover. His is for sure the best performance in the play.
Theo Ancient (Seriozha) is also very good.
David Pustansky looks a tad over-nevrotic and manneristic in his interpretation. But then, this shows up as a very appropriate peasant-flavoured personality that gives dimensions to his character.
Jamie Hufges-Ward (Stiva) and Luca Pusceddu (Vronsky) performances are too controlled and monolithic to stand out. Stiva is so stiff it's hard to take him for a joyful adulterer, while it looks like Vronsky's heart is never taken by the warmth of his passion for Anna.
Lucia Edward makes for a beautiful and sensual Anna Karenina in this staging but, unfortunately, her performance does not arise in the audience the strong and conflicting emotions it should, nor it does in Vronsky. On the other side, Nalan Burgess (Kitty) and Lily Alyss entretain with their fresh and witty performances.
This classic is so well known, and yet so rarely read (I would think), that the Theatre Collection effort must be prized for there is a didactic dimension in it but, most of all, it must be prized because, despite some deficiencies, it is an adaptation well done.
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