The Proposal, The Bear, Drama

by Anton Chekhov

14th – 16th October 2010

Fresh, funny and farcical, these are the comic vaudevilles with which Anton Chekhov first made his reputation in the theatre.

The path of true love does not run smoothly, nor where one expects, in this hilarious sequence of misunderstandings, love/hate relationships and dealings with the opposite sex.

In The Proposal a desperate spinster suffers one frustration after another, while a melodramatic grieving widow is in for a huge surprise in The Bear. And will a world weary publisher finally snap in Drama?

Our production of The Proposal won the award for ‘Best Presentation’ at this year’s Didcot Drama festival. We hope you’ll enjoy this along with The Bear and Drama, two more pieces in the same vein which make up our evening of light comedy.

Chekhov PosterThe Casts

The Proposal
Chubakov: Robertson Bell
Lomov: Paul Shave
Natalya Stepanova: Mary Warrington
Produced by Eric Saxton
The Bear
Luka: Nick Roberts
Popova: Helen Saxton
Smirnov: Phil Prior
Produced by Eric Saxton
 Drama
Luka: Naomi Read
Pavel Vasilyevich: Eric Saxton
Murashkina: Ruth Burton
Produced by Eric Saxton

Newbury Weekly News Review

The funnier side of Chekov exposed in three short works

Perhaps it was the name Chekhov which resulted in the audience for the opening night numbering only 50 or so souls. As producer Eric Saxton wrote in the programme, he is a playwright associated with rather serious works. Nevertheless, the three plays which the Compton Players chose were both funny and entertaining.

The Proposal started the evening, with Paul Shave as dithering suitor Lomov asking Chubukov for the hand of his daughter, Natalya. Even though Lomov was required to be hesitant, the dialogue was slightly stilted to begin with, but soon got into full amusing flow as Shave and Rob Bell (Chubukov) and Mary Warrington (Natalya) fell into arguments rather than pursuing romance. All three carried off their characters well. Mary Warrington as the over-keen would-be bride – loved the drumming of the heels – Bell as the father who’s fed up with the whole thing and Shave excellent as the hypochondriac suitor.

This was followed by The Bear. No furry suits, it was the story of Popova (Helen Saxton) grieving for the loss of her husband. She is, she tells her servant Luka (Nick Roberts) determined to grieve for ever, instructing him to give her husband’s horse, Toby, an extra measure of oats.

When young and lusty Smirnov (Phil Prior) comes to claim a debt, he reluctantly finds himself falling for the dimpled widow, but she resists – a bit – and the final brilliant instruction is that Toby should have no oats at all today. Good performances from Helen Saxton and Roberts though while Prior acted well, his dialogue was occasionally rather gabbled.

Finally Eric Saxton showed exactly why his performances have delighted audiences for so long in Drama. When Naomi Read as servant Luka (another one!) ushers would be playwright Murashkina (Ruth Burton) into her master, Vasilyevich’s study, Vasilyevich (Eric Saxton) is compelled to listen as she insists on reading her new play.

Ruth Burton made a wonderfully infuriating over-dramatic playwright while Saxton with minimal gestures, words and facial expressions made the audience aware exactly what was going through his mind up to the final, fatal, end.

An entertaining trio of plays translated by Michael Frayn which provided an amusing evening of comedy for those willing to give Chekhov a try.

CAROLINE FRANKLIN

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