REVIEW: IVANOV Pentameters Hampstead HHHHI This, one of the author’s earliest works, has been

PUBLISHED: 11:47 29 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:52 07 September 2010

Four star rating This, one of the author s earliest works, has been dubbed a Russian Hamlet. Ivanov is a typical Chekhovian character; he is a bored, despairing landowner who lacks the money to keep his business afloat and ha

IVANOV

Pentameters

Hampstead

Four star rating

This, one of the author's earliest works, has been dubbed a Russian Hamlet.

Ivanov is a typical Chekhovian character; he is a bored, despairing landowner who lacks the money to keep his business afloat and has stopped caring. In his youth he married a rich Jewish girl who was disinherited by her family when she became a Christian. Naturally, many of the neighbours think that he had expected to benefit from Anna's dowry and that this is the cause of his poverty.

Now Anna is dying of consumption, creating an emotion in him that he cannot understand or accept; instead Ivanov spends his time with his rich friend Lebedev, to whom he owes money but whose daughter Sasha has a fancy for him.

As Anna, director Harry Meacher has cast his wife Judi Bowker - almost unrecognisable in a black wig. She has a sweet and wistful presence and gives a heartbreaking performance as the dying and neglected girl though she is obviously adored by the doctor, Lvov, and tolerates him even as he is despised by every other member of the community. He is given a wonderfully unsympathetic portrayal by Adam Lewis, whose saturnine face and measured delivery gives a sharp comedic edge to the characterisation.

Roger Sansom is over the top and very funny as the exuberant alcoholic Borkin and Bryan Hands reins in yet another funny performance as the Count who dallies with a rich widow and is terrified when he realises that she seriously wants to become a countess. Seamus Newham plays the kindly Lebedev and gives this role great warmth, in contrast to his hatchet-faced money-lender of a wife, played by Christine Lohr.

Meacher himself plays the title role, a part that is ideal for his range and versatility conveying the world-weariness and despair of a character who despises himself for his failures in life and because he is so unmoved by the impending death of his beautiful wife.

This is a lively production: there are a few longueurs in the first act, but the hilarious final part has the audience helpless with laughter.

Until February 7.

Aline Waites


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