Chekhov’s early play lacks the subtlety of his masterpieces but it contains all the hallmarks of his canon – the juxtaposition of uproarious comedy with the bleakest of tragedy, a belief in the essential meaninglessness at the heart of bourgeois life and the prescient warnings of the catastrophe that is about to engulf Russia. As ever at the National Theatre, the production values are nonpareil – Tom Pye’s amazing set for the Olivier stage even has a real pond with water-plants growing in it. And the acting is exuberantly excellent, with James McArdle particularly good in the title-role and Nina Sosanya as Anna, one of the women whose lives he destroys before the final disaster. Platonov is one third of the NT’s Young Chekhov season along with Ivanov and The Seagull. The same ensemble appears in each – and you can see all three plays on the same day  if your stamina matches the actors’.




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