Alces Productions’ acclaimed 1920s-set, Anglicised adaptation of Chekhov’s short story The Lady with a Dog transfers from the White Bear Theatre to Tabard Theatre this month for an extended season. Adapter/director Mark Giesser explains more about why he felt the story would sit so well in this different setting – and we go back to the source for further background.
“There was said to be a new arrival on the Esplanade: a lady with a dog.”
So begins one of Anton Chekhov’s most charming yet bittersweet love stories. Chekhov lived and worked during the last years of his life in the Black Sea resort of Yalta, and his 1899 short story about a married banker on holiday there, pursuing a much younger married woman, has become an endearing classic. Perhaps that’s because, at its heart, the story explores a timeless emotional question: what happens when love and commitment get in each other’s way?
The story explores a timeless emotional question: what happens when love and commitment get in each other’s way?
It’s a question that rarely has an easy answer, but one that rarely fades away once it presents itself.
Chekhov wrote his story in a world where old certainties were increasingly being questioned but still held power. Most people presented with the question would have known exactly how they should answer.
Less than two decades after his death in 1904, the world about which Chekhov wrote was gone, and for many people, old certainties no longer provided much guidance. In Russia, there had been a political and social revolution. In Britain, there was constant fear of the former and not a small measure of bewilderment at the ways in which the latter was taking shape.
The pace of change has only accelerated faster and faster since then.
Which is why I thought it would be interesting to see how Chekhov’s story might unfold in this country in the years following the First World War, years when our own world of uncertain romantic certainties began to take shape.
Having just completed successful run at the White Bear, The Lady with a Dog runs from 14 March to 7 April 2018 at west London’s Tabard Theatre, with Tuesday to Saturday evening performances at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £16.50-£19.50. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS!