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A reviews round-up for Michael Frayn’s Wild Honey at Hampstead Theatre.

Michael Frayn’s comedy of errors opens to positive reviews at Hampstead Theatre.

Frayn’s adaptation of Chekhov’s early novel was due to be directed by Howard Davies, however with his untimely death, Jonathan Kent admirably stepped into the breach. Kent is in the unusual position of having recently directed the play as part of the critically acclaimed Chekhov Trilogy at the National Theatre.

Drawn from Chekhov’s untitled – and posthumously discovered – early play, Wild Honey is a tale of nineteenth century Russian life replete with classic misunderstandings, irrepressible desires and nostalgia for a vanishing world.

Frayn’s finely observed mix of banter, romance and despair is well paired with Kent’s direction of consummate tragicomic timing.

Hampstead’s production doesn’t have the scale or expense of the National production however it is well received and considered one to watch.

Wild Honey runs until 14 January 2017 at the Hampstead Theatre.

Here’s a round-up of reviews from The Guardian, Evening Standard, Independent, TimeOut and The Stage.

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REVIEWS ROUND-UP

STAR RATING The Guardian

“Frayn finds the farce in Chekhov’s comic despair”

“Frayn’s version is shorter and more farcical than Hare’s: it omits, however, one or two characters and makes less of the financial pressures on the beleaguered estate-owner Anna Petrovna. What both versions share is a compelling antihero in Platonov: a village schoolmaster once thought of as “a second Byron” who has dwindled into a neurotic Don Juan with a ruinous attraction for women.”

“Geoffrey Streatfeild, brilliant as Ivanov in Young Chekhov, looks a shade too mature for the 27-year-old Platonov. What he captures, though, is the character’s mix of sardonic intellect and self-loathing as he contemplates a wasted life and the emotional wreckage he has created. Justine Mitchell invests Anna Petrovna with the right headstrong ardour, and there is fine support from Sophie Rundle as an amatory rival, Rebecca Humphries as Platonov’s neglected wife and Jo Herbert as a volatile chemistry student.”

“Rob Howell’s tree-dominated design reminds us that this is a play about people waking up to summer passions after winter hibernation and, with the aid of Peter Mumford’s lighting, twice memorably conjures up the effect of an onrushing train.”

Michael Billington – The Guardian

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STAR RATING Time Out

“It’s a slick, polished job that’ll clearly knock your socks off if you’ve never seen any version of this play before – if it’s not a production for the ages it’s a good result under difficult circumstances.”

Andrzej Lukowski – TimeOut

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STAR RATING The Independent

“Jonathan Kent directs with consummate tragicomic timing”

“Geoffrey Streatfeild is excellent as the electric eel in this barrel of provincial dead fish.”

Paul Taylor – The Independent

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STAR RATING Evening Standard

“A finely observed mix of banter, romance and despair”

“This production won’t eclipse memories of Kent’s previous take on the play. But the tension in the key relationships is palpable, and the result feels like a necessary tribute to Howard Davies, a sublime interpreter of Russian drama and pretty much everything else.”

Henry Hitchings – Evening Standard

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STAR RATING The Stage

“Frayn’s adaptation finds the farce in this drama, though there’s too much dodgy drunken acting for it to be properly funny”
Tim Bano – The Stage

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