Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Night Before The Trial and The Sneeze

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Three stars
While John Byrne's 1960s reinvention of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters
plays to packed houses in the Tron's main house, Marcus Roche's
bite-size staging of two of the Russian master's miniatures is an all
too fitting curtain-raiser. Roche himself opens proceedings as Chekhov,
manning the decks with some particularly riotous Russian dance numbers
on the stereo before reading brief excerpts from his diaries.

These take place shortly after the original production of The Three
Sisters has been a massive flop, and Chekhov considers penning funnier
fare once more. This leads neatly into Roche's adaptation of the
unfinished The Night Before The Trial, in which a man awaits his fate
on the eve of being hauled before the court for attempted bigamy and
attempted murder. He is subsequently usurped by a young woman in need
of medical assistance he'd be happy to administer if only her pesky
husband wasn't also on the scene.

Played script in hand as if the words were still hot from Chekhov's
pen, the story's inconclusive ending segues into Michael Frayn's near
wordless The Sneeze like a Monty Python routine, with its author
stepping in, only to keel over so a reserve is forced to take his place.

Adapted from Chekhov's short story, Death of A Government Clerk, The
Sneeze sees a very sticky faux pas during a night at the opera upended
into a piece of silent movie slapstick as dexterous as Frayn's own
farces. Both of these fleeting moments of human behaviour are lifted
off the page by the production's casually-dressed quintet with an
irreverent brio that Chekhov needs much more of.

The Herald, October 21st 2014


ends


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