Garden Suburb Theatre returns to live performance

Jess Taylor as Anna and Steven Maddocks as Dmitri in Garden Suburb Theatre's The Yalta Game. 

Jess Taylor as Anna and Steven Maddocks as Dmitri in Garden Suburb Theatre's The Yalta Game. - Credit: Supplied

Garden Suburb Theatre returns to live performance - after numerous stop starts - with a double bill of Chekhov-inspired plays.

Director Colin Gregory says the veteran amateur company established twice weekly online meetings at the start of the pandemic.

"On Sundays we read plays and on Wednesdays people brought poems, readings or songs on a given theme," he said. "It was incredibly valuable for keeping the group connected, especially those living on their own."

In October 2020, they realised their production of Noel Coward's The Vortex couldn't be performed due to social distancing restrictions. 

"The cast was too large, the play too long and we couldn't have an interval". So Gregory changed tack to stage Brian Friel's The Yalta Game and Afterplay. The first is based on short story The Lady with the Dog in which a married man and a young married woman meet on holiday and have a brief affair that transforms their lives. The second sees Uncle Vanya’s niece Sonya and the three sisters’ brother Andrey meet by chance in a run-down Moscow cafe and uncover long hidden truths.

Jess Taylor as Anna in The Yalta Game.

Jess Taylor as Anna in The Yalta Game. - Credit: Supplied

"These two one-act plays with two characters seemed an ideal solution for the slot."

They were postponed to February 2021, and again to July when they will finally play Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate.

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"I am a great admirer of Brian Friel's work," says Gregory. "Both Chekhov and Friel have a deep understanding of human character. Friel's writing has a lyrical quality, often found in Irish writing, and he takes Chekhov's characters and illuminates brilliantly what drives them."

Both plays he says "have a sense of Russian fatalism" and a theme of "reconciling our inner world with life as we find it."

"The world of The Yalta Game is about to change as they face war and revolution, while in Afterplay no-one is sure how the huge upheavals that have taken place will affect their future."

The double bill runs July 6-11. Details and tickets from