But against the odds, this defiantly anachronistic production (which he also directs) proved surprisingly moving, especially in the closing moments which leave the three disillusioned young women (first seen as emotionally and physically distant from each other as Johannes Schütz’s stark, raised, tabletop set allowed) clinging to each other for support, alone and stranded on a mound of earth, preparing to face a new, bleak future.
Vanessa Kirby’s blonde, bored Masha, married to a schoolmaster she’s come to despise, drowns her frustration in drink and falls, heavily, for the new commander, the philosophising Vershin (impressive William Houston) who’s tied to an unseen suicidal wife by familial duty.
Irina, the youngest, has, at first, a naïve certainty that hard work will make her happy even though Olga, their oldest sister, is already a worn-out spinster after just a few years as a teacher.
Their brother Andrey (Danny Kirrane) slobs around in tracksuit bottoms and mistakenly believes he’ll find happiness with a heavily tattooed local girl and Michael Feast’s fond, drunken old doctor Chebutykin knows right from the start that his life has been wasted,
Different, challenging but ultimately engrossing, this reworking won’t appeal to purists – but then it’s not every production of Chekhov that boasts a remote-controlled helicopter, a foul-mouthed Masha, and the symbolic dismantling of a set which takes over an entire scene.
Young Vic, The Cut, SE1 8LZ
Tube | Southwark / Waterloo
Extended to 3rd November
£10.00 – £30.00
Photo: Simon Annand