Arkady is back home for the summer with his ideological friend Bazarov sprouting nihilism. Bazarov prompted debates and discussions among the otherwise genial household and also acts as a catalyst for a few relationships within the household. The secondary plot of Bazarov and his parents is the other focus.
The adaptation by Brian Friel is snappy and the philosophical debates are especially exciting. Though the condensation of the plot can feel a bit abrupt especially in the second half but the beautifully moving ending ensures it ends on a high. Importantly, the exploration of the relationships between the fathers and sons is concrete and provides a grounded commentary on the subject. The design by Rob Howell, similar to his previous work in Philadelphia Here I Come at the Donmar, uses angular wooden planks to exaggerated perspective and adds depth of the stage. Though it was effective for the previous production, it is overly fussy and gimmicky here and jars with the period of the piece.
Joshua James as Arkady is brilliantly devotional to his friend and has a charming naivety. Seth Numrich as Bazarov is suitably arrogant but has a believable self assuredness that is also fallible. The rest of the cast are all outstanding especially Tim Mcmullan, Siobhan Mcsweeney, Elaine Cassidy and Susan Engel.
Photo by Johan Persson