Tabard Theatre, London – until 7 April 2018
Guest reviewer: Shaun Dicks
Tonight, we find ourselves at a Chekhov piece. Not one of his plays, but an adaptation of one of his short stories. The interesting thing when it comes to adaptations is that it can be either a hit or a miss, or in this rare case, it is neither.
We find ourselves following the story of two married couples, each with a spouse on holiday alone. They form a bond, and this story follows that bond through a certain length of time. This show tackles the themes of love, open relationships and age differences, all within an age where two out of three were taboo. I’ll let you guess which two.
For me the show feels like a show of two halves, the first act seems a little laboured. There was a lack of intent and pace that didn’t make me want to follow the story or the characters within it. The story itself is decent, it follows the formulaic way of presenting a story of infidelity, but contains some interesting characters. The show’s use of the spouses that aren’t on the holiday as a Greek chorus is an interesting and ultimately inspired device of storytelling.
However, despite the unnecessary interval, the second half is infinitely better. There is a drive in the second half that the first lacks. The intent shown by all members of the cast really drives the story home and made me care about them as characters and the story of their lives unfolding. Each member of the cast is strong in their own way but sadly there are a few weaknesses on show that do need improving.
One thing that does need improving overall is the script. The overuse of monologues within the text was arduous at times. The script needed to show more and tell less, it felt like the characters were giving us large amounts of information, when really, they should’ve shown us. Monologues are all well and good but give your audience some credit and let them receive information in a more interesting and creative way.
The Lady with A Dog is a decent show. It is neither good or bad. If you are near to the Tabard Theatre or a fan of Anton Chekhov, then I say go see the show. But if you are looking for something new and exciting, this show isn’t for you. The show needs work both on the performance side regarding pacing and intent but also from the writing side as the script is very formulaic and needs to make some changes before this show becomes something special. This show has the potential to be great and as a fan of Chekhov myself, I want it to achieve that. It just needs to develop to get there.