This was the first of a triple bill of short plays for autumn, as a change to the normal offering of a two- or three-act play. If you’re looking for a heavyweight, when it comes to playwrights, surely Chekhov can’t be far behind Shakespeare. This play is a three-hander, so it was a great opportunity for me to develop a lead character, and the emphasis here was not on slavishly adhering to the authenticity of the characters with a Russian accent, but on making them believable as human beings, with all their (preferably amusing) human failings, and the same applied to all three of us.
Ivan Vassilevitch Lomov, described in the play as a ‘landowner and hypochondriac … thirty-five — a critical age’, intends to ask for the hand of Natalya Stepanova (Kath Chadwick), the daughter of his neighbour, Stepan Stepanovitch Chubokov (David Marshall), but almost immediately, before he gets that far, they fall out over land ownership and the prowess of their respective hunting dogs. However, when Natalya realises that marriage was on offer, notwithstanding Lomov’s ridiculous melodramatic collapses, she changes her tune, although the play ends with jibes about each others’ dogs amidst the celebrations!