A HAMPSTEAD THEATRE PRODUCTION
By Michael Frayn, adapted from the play without a name by Anton Chekhov
Directed by Howard Davies with Jonathan Kent
Running time: 2 hours and 20 minutes including interval
£10 - £35 (See ticket information)
Are you really such a terrible Don Juan? You look so handsome in the moonlight!
2 Dec 2016 - 21 Jan 2017
£10 - £35
Box Office: 020 7722 9301
★★★★ 'Frayn finds the farce in Chekhov's comic despair' The Guardian
★★★★ 'A joyous production' The Sunday Times
★★★★ 'This beautifully cast and conceived revival' The Independent
★★★★ 'A finely observed mix of banter, romance and despair' Evening Standard
★★★★ 'Expert adapter, Michael Frayn gives us a new genre of ‘tragifarce’' Sunday Express
Village schoolmaster Platonov has it all: wit, intelligence, a comfortable and respectable life in provincial Russia, and the attentions of four beautiful women - one of whom is his devoted wife… As summer arrives and the seasonal festivities commence, the rapidly intensifying heat makes everyone giddy with sunlight, vodka – and passion.
Michael Frayn’s comedy of errors, drawn from Chekhov’s untitled – and posthumously discovered - early play, is a tale of nineteenth century Russian life replete with classic misunderstandings, irrepressible desires and nostalgia for a vanishing world.
Multi-award winner Michael Frayn returns to Hampstead following Alphabetical Order, Clouds, Now You Know and Matchbox Theatre. His other plays include Noises Off, Copenhagen and Democracy. His novels include Headlong, Spies and Skios.
Hampstead Theatre’s Associate Artist Howard Davies returns following his acclaimed productions of Hapgood by Tom Stoppard and Drawing the Line and 55 Days by Howard Brenton. Recent directing credits include An Enemy of the People (Chichester).
Geoffrey Streatfeild makes his Hampstead debut in the role of Platonov. His previous theatre credits include Young Chekhov: Ivanov and The Seagull, Children of the Sun and Earthquakes in London (all National Theatre) and My Night with Reg (Donmar/West End).
Jonathan Kent is to complete Howard Davies’ work on his production of Wild Honey and will facilitate its full stage presentation.
'Frayn’s version is shorter and more farcical than Hare’s: it omits, however, one or two characters and makes less of the financial pressures on the beleaguered estate-owner Anna Petrovna. What both versions share is a compelling antihero in Platonov: a village schoolmaster once thought of as “a second Byron” who has dwindled into a neurotic Don Juan with a ruinous attraction for women. Like many of Chekhov’s later characters, he is tragic on the inside and comic on the outside, and Frayn makes the most of the sight of him pathetically torn between the rival claims of competing lovers.'
'[Geoffrey Streatfeild] captures is the character’s mix of sardonic intellect and self-loathing as he contemplates a wasted life and the emotional wreckage he has created. Justine Mitchell invests Anna Petrovna with the right headstrong ardour, and there is fine support from Sophie Rundle as an amatory rival, Rebecca Humphries as Platonov’s neglected wife and Jo Herbert as a volatile chemistry student.'
'Rob Howell’s tree-dominated design reminds us that this is a play about people waking up to summer passions after winter hibernation and, with the aid of Peter Mumford’s lighting, twice memorably conjures up the effect of an onrushing train. Rather than choosing between the Frayn and Hare versions, we should count ourselves lucky that two living dramatists have excavated a work that shows Chekhov’s precocious mastery of comic despair.'
Michael Billington, 9 December, 2016
The Sunday Times
'A joyous production has emerged, with Frayn's version differing from Hare's in being more farcical, more compressed and more understanding of female sexuality.'
'Geoffrey Streatfeild brings great complexity to the role of Platonov as he fires up the women with his energy and quick thinking, while also weakly revelling in self-disgust.'
'...a pleasure to see.'
Jane Edwardes, 18 December, 2016
'It's intriguing to re-encounter what Michael Frayn made of the same material in his classic 1984 adaptation which he called Wild Honey. Howard Davies – the greatest director in our era of the Russian and American repertoire – died while working on this beautifully cast and conceived revival. It's been carried through to rich completion by Jonathan Kent'
'Platonov, the protagonist after whom most versions are named is a 27 year old provincial school teacher who is angry about everything, not least the corrupt society of land-grabbing merchants where an upstart entrepreneur can own more taverns than a peasant has kopecks and even more so about his failure to live up to his early idealism. The black joke is that he's a hapless, half-accidental Don Juan. No matter how badly he treats them, he's irresistible to women and, in addition to Sasha (Rebecca Humphries) his long-suffering wife, three are competing for him here – Anna Petrovna (superb Justine Mitchell), a widowed landowner; her stepdaughter Sofya (Sophie Rundle) who is actually on honeymoon with his best friend; and Jo Herbert as an embittered chemistry student.'
'Geoffrey Streatfeild is excellent as the electric eel in this barrel of provincial dead fish.'
'The tipsy comedy of errors in the forest and the inebriated farcical shenanigans on the railway track outside Platonov's house are choreographed with great aplomb. Kent directs with consummate tragicomic timing the final scene where our hero is cornered in the school room by a succession of the people he has deceived and there's vodka-tippling counterpoint “The quicker we drink it the sooner it will be gone”) between his despair and that of Anna Petrovna as an educated, unorthodox woman who has left with nothing worthwhile to do (“What am I here for? Why am I alive?”). Recommended.'
Paul Taylor, 13 December, 2016
'Originally Howard Davies was due to preside over this revival of a rarely performed play by Chekhov, a finely observed mix of banter, romance and despair. But the much-loved director’s illness and untimely death in October led to his friend Jonathan Kent stepping into the breach.'
'This production uses not the version of Chekhov’s Platonov that Kent previously chose — by David Hare — but one by Michael Frayn that premiered in the Eighties. It trims the Russian’s sprawling and unfocused effort into something manageable and yet at times wildly absurd, the most farcical parts of which are authentically Chekhovian rather than being Frayn’s additions.'
'At its heart is Geoffrey Streatfeild as Platonov, a charismatic playboy who’s improbably become a teacher but still magnetises women. He toys with their affections, and Streatfeild’s vigorous, layered performance makes him seem a rumpled maverick, dreamy and boastful yet also intriguingly bitter.'
'There’s elegant work from Justine Mitchell as seductive widow Anna. Matthew Flynn injects menace as a thievish local misfit and Gunnar Cauthery captures the pedantic awkwardness of the community’s touchy doctor.'
'The tension in the key relationships is palpable, and the result feels like a necessary tribute to Howard Davies, a sublime interpreter of Russian drama and pretty much everything else.'
Henry Hitchings, 9 December, 2016
'All the traditional Chekhovian themes – wasted lives, doomed loves, bankrupt gentry – are present here at the start of his dramatic career... in place of the usual tragicomedy, expert adapter, Michael Frayn gives us a new genre of ‘tragifarce’.'
'Geoffrey Streatfeild endows the protagonist, Platonov, with shaggy amiability and there is notable support from Justine Mitchell, Rebecca Humphries and Matthew Flynn.'
Michael Arditti, 18 December, 2016
GERASIM KUZMICH PETRIN
PORFIRY SEMYONOVICH GLAGOLYEV
MARYA YEFIMOVNA GREKOVA
Jane Edwardes awards Wild Honey four stars
Paul Arditti awards Wild Honey four stars
Paul Taylor awards Wild Honey four stars
Photos by Alice Boagey
Henry Hitchings awards Michael Frayn's Wild Honey four stars
Michael Billington awards Michael Frayn's Wild Honey four stars
Andrew Billen talks to Michael Frayn about Wild Honey, his adaptation of Anton Chekhov's play without a name
An extract from Michael Frayn's introduction to Wild Honey
Casting announced for Michael Frayn's comedy of errors, directed by Howard Davies
Michael Frayn introduces Wild Honey, his adaptation of Chekhov's play without a name
With plays from Beth Steel, Tony Kushner and Michael Frayn
Artistic Director Edward Hall introduces the Main Stage Autumn Season, and we meet Beth Steel, Tony Kushner and Michael Frayn
Previews, Mondays and matinees
Full price: £28/£25/£18
Under 30s/Students: £15/£10*
Seniors (matinees only): £20/£18/£15
Groups: For every 9 tickets get the 10th free
Tuesday – Saturday evenings
Full price: £35/£30/£25
Under 30s/Students: £15/£10*
Groups: For every 9 tickets get the 10th free
*Under 30s and Student concession seats are available in rows A (£15) & Q (£10)
Audio described performance:
14 January 7.30pm, with a touch tour at 6pm
5 January at 7.30pm, with a transcribed post show discussion