A treat for Chekhov fans, Afterplay is a long overdue catch-up with some of the author’s most famous characters.
Set in Russia in the 1920’s, Andrey from The Three Sisters (Wayne Bassett) meets Sonya from Uncle Vanya (Emma Skelton) in a café, 20-years after the events of their respective plays took place. Both melancholy, sprite and eager for companionship, the two share an evening as details of their lives and the continued impact of days long past comes to the forefront.
As if you’re listening in on a conversation, it’s the kind of interchange you can’t help but be interested in as both Sonya and Andrey take solace in each other’s company and slowly reveal what has become of them over decades. An intimate and little-populated set keeps the focus on clearly well-defined and studied performances. The only major set-piece, a table, serves little function but to prop up the slowly decanting vodka bottle, actually creating a barrier between Sonya and the audience for much of the play which does not affect Andrey who often jumps around the set as he reels of his tales.
The back-stories and context of the characters are decently spelled out for those unfamiliar with Chekhov, but this play is primarily suited to fans of the Russian author who would gladly indulge in a bit of speculation and fantasy as to where their favourite characters ended up. Those unfamiliar with the material will have difficulty understanding much of the conversation and will only catch up with the narrative towards the end of Afterplay, where the events of Chekhov’s texts themselves are covered in some more detail.
A charming and tender-hearted introduction to Chekhov for the uninitiated and a bit of entertaining conjecture for devotees, Afterplay can be enjoyed both as a throwback to the famous author or simply as a fascinating conversation you were lucky enough to stumble into one night.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Afterplay – Sydney Fringe 2015
Based on characters created by Anton Chekhov
Old 505 Theatre
Writer: Brian Friel
Starring: Emma Skelton, Wayne Bassett
Director: Heidi Manche
Production Designer: Desley Martin