Platonov, National Theatre – review

Published: Tuesday, August 30, 2016 11:54 AM | Review by: Georgina Ramsay |
Platonov, National Theatre (c) Photo by Johan Persson Platonov, National Theatre (c) Photo by Johan Persson

Although this production can be seen as a single performance, after this energetic performance you will certainly want to see this ensemble of actors bring more of Chekhov’s work to life.


Platonov is the first in the Young Chekhov trilogy, comprised of his first three plays and adapted by David Hare. After receiving rave reviews at the Chichester Festival Theatre the series of plays, performed by an ensemble cast, now comes to the National Theatre.


Set in mid-nineteenth century Russia, Chekhov presents a country declining into anarchy after the collapse of communism leaves its young people disillusioned. With the arrival of capitalism, money is at the heart of every conversation and people are willing to sell their soul for a few Rubles. No one is more dissatisfied with this new undisciplined Russia than schoolmaster, Platonov.


The chaos of the public sphere is reflected in the eponymous character’s private life. A quintessential ladies’ man, Platonov, engages in extramarital affairs with both widow, Anna Petrovna (Nina Sosanya) and Sofya (Olivia Vinall), an old flame, now married to Anna’s stepson.


Played by Scottish actor, James McArdle, Platonov comically alternates between contempt for the unprincipled Russian society and self-loathing for partaking in it. McArdle strikes the perfect balance by bringing a charm to the role that makes the character endearing despite his many shortcomings. Although he is emotionally callous, telling his wife “I don’t want to be happy, I want to be with you!” such lines are delivered with charisma that makes it impossible for the audience, much like the play’s female characters, to resist. In many ways we are faced with a similar conflict to Platonov which, ironically, only makes us empathise with the character more.


Sosanya and Vinall also give noteworthy performances as two of the three women scorned by Platonov. Although this production can be seen as a single performance, after this energetic performance you will certainly want to see this ensemble of actors bring more of Chekhov’s work to life.



Info: Platonov is at the National Theatre until 8 October 2016 | Book tickets




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