Funny and bleak in equal parts: Stoppard does Chekhov in the West End

So Lol went to see the Donmar production of Ivanov the other night. It was brilliant all round – incredible music, set design and performances. The translation was as witty as ever (and being a massive Stoppard-obsessive this came as no surprise).

The only slight quibble on people’s lips was the way that Stoppard had thrown in a bunch of oddly modern phrases. Being as the setting was meant to be the late 1800s, it did seem strangely anachronistic to hear Brannagh and co. saying things like ‘Going like the clappers’ and ‘knackered’. There were lots of phrases which upset the purists in the audience – as though Stoppard was trying to ‘dumb down’ the words of Chekhov.

It got me thinking though – if you translate Russian into English, does it matter whether you change the language to that of the modern day? Surely if we’re being pedantic, they ought to be speaking Russian anyway??

Either way I really recommend seeing it – not if you’re feeling remotely depressed though. Although it’s funny, It’s not the most uplifting of night’s out.  


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