Afterplay, Studio Theatre Salisbury

IMAGINE yourself to be a famous playwright who, in later life, realises that a character from a play and another written three years later were actually the soul-mates each yearned for.

In Afterplay, Brian Friel, sometimes called “the Irish Chekhov”, takes the work of the Russian writer and introduces Andrey from Three Sisters to Sonia from Uncle Vanya. The one act play, set in the early 1920s in a run-down Moscow cafe, sees the two characters pouring out their hearts and souls to one another over tepid vegetable soup and surreptitious vodka.

It’s hard to know if the play would work for anyone not thoroughly acquainted with Chekhov’s oeuvre, and the “jokes” – remember, the writer described his works as comedies – would be lost without background.

But it’s a brilliant conceit, beautifully performed in Salisbury by Rachel Fletcher and George Golding. Lesley Bates again directs these two exceptionally talented actors in a play that has recently won the Totton Festival of Drama – the second win for the company at the annual competitive festival.

The “home audience” had the chance to see this production in the Ashley Road theatre, and packed houses  revelled in the experience. Alistair Faulkner’s set evoked the chilly atmosphere of a Moscow cafe where these two orphans in the storm played out a meeting full of illusions and allusions, half-truths and fervent hopes.  Andrey’s final cry tears the heart strings, pulling back the stories of both the original plays in vivid anguish.

Congratulations to all concerned for a richly deserved  win.    Or поздравляю


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