5 April 2018

The Lady with a Dog at Tabard Theatre

I try to see everything Chekhov in London and so The Lady With A Dog got on to my must-see list when it appeared on the schedule at White Bear Theatre. Annoyingly I just could not find the time to see it on its short run there so I was mightily pleased when it transferred to the even more convenient Tabard Theatre. I could find an evening for it there and the £19.5 asking price for Row A Seat 3 was no obstacle.

I had seen a few Chekhov short stories turned into plays but those had always kept their Russian and C19 setting and were quite short whereas this was set in Scotland in 1923 and was a full-length play.

The lady with a dog was on holiday in Berwick waiting for her busy husband to escape from Council to work to come and join her when she met an older equally married man who was on holiday by himself. That meeting was manufactured by the man who, we soon learned, had manufactured similar meetings in previous holidays there. Things developed from there.

The way their story developed was surprising and the way that it was told was delightful.

It was interesting seeing it so soon after Tryst (six months felt like soon) where another manufactured relationship led to a wedding and then something a lot darker. Here a similar relationship that could have gone wrong in so many ways survived, and even flourished, despite the knowing presence of two spouses. It was all nicely done; yes he was a cad for starting the affair and yes they were both being unfaithful to decent partners but they still carried my sympathies and I was able to rejoice in their happiness.

The Lady with a Dog was one of those lovely plays that knew exactly what it was doing and did it beautifully. Having a Chekhov story to build on helped but there was a lot more to it than that, the mood was perfect throughout and that was largely due to four fine actors led by Richard Lynson and Beth Burrows as the unlikely couple. I loved it.

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