AFTER appearing in Chekhov classic Uncle Vanya, actress Marianne Oldham is back tackling the Russian playwright in Coventry Belgrade’s latest production.
Sons Without Fathers, is the brand new, contemporary adaptation of Chekhov’s first and rarely performed play.
“I found it a completely different kettle of fish to Uncle Vanya,” says Oldham, who also recently appeared in BBC 1 drama WPC 56, based around the struggles of a 1950s Brummie policewoman.
“Vanya was more of what you would expect from Chekhov; those Chekhov pauses. This one has got an explosive and crazy feel. There are times I can’t quite believe we’re doing Chekhov.”
Based around a band of disaffected thirty-somethings, too old to move with the times, and too young to let go of their dreams, the group attempt to fill the void with sex and vodka, blaming their fathers for the mess they’ve been left in.
At their centre is village school teacher Platonov, a man who is loved by women. Despite his best intentions he is drawn into a series of extra-marital affairs where each one hold the promise of escape from the provincial reality.
“[Chekhov[ really writes well about the human condition and we recognise ourselves so much in his stories,” adds Oldham, who plays Sophia in the show. “I haven’t seen the original, Russian version. I have only read Helena’s (Kaut-Howson) translation.
“But I think Helena has rejigged it a bit and made sure there’s more of a bigger story to it.
“She’s made it more about the one man and his different relationships.
“I think she’s got rid of some of the older characters, it’s much more heady and energetic. It’s a bunch of 30-year-olds slightly on the edge, trying to work themselves out. And not lose sight of who they wanted to be when they were in their 20s. It’s like a sitcom plus vodka. But it’s got that sort of Russian madness to it; the stakes are much higher than in a sitcom. It’s definitely life and death by the end.”
Sons Without Fathers is on at Coventry Belgrade’s B2 auditorium from April 13 to May 4.