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Anton Chekhov

Drive My Car 

14 February 2022

Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s latest feature, Drive My Car, ponders fidelity and sorrow, and the universal truth that people are mostly fucked up. It adapts Huraki Murakami’s short story of the same name from his collection Men Without Women (2014), about a widower recounting his deceased wife’s infidelities to his ‘homely’ female driver. Hamaguchi’s film gently teases out the many quirky strands of information glossed over in the master novelist’s short story, most notably the characters’ backstories. The result is a literary work, magnificent in scope, that unfurls over three entrancing hours.

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The Cherry Orchard 

Belvoir St Theatre
03 June 2021

What did Anton Pavlovich Chekhov ever do to Sydney theatre that Sydney theatre should treat him as it does? Since Tamas Ascher’s superb STC production of Uncle Vanya hit the stage in 2010, Sydney has been subjected to performances of The Seagull, Ivanov, The Present (aka Platonov), and Three Sisters that, in their attempts to be ‘relevant’, have ridden roughshod over the subtle, devastatingly acute dissections of humanity with which Chekhov presents us.

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‘Who do you think you are?’ an eminent paediatrician once thundered at me across a child’s cot during his weekly grand ward round. ‘Anton Chekhov?’

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Be warned: what follows is in the nature of a rave. It’s not often one is tempted to weep with gratitude for how the theatre has brought a play to such magisterial life that one can’t imagine ever wanting to see it again – let alone supposing it could be done better. If you’re tired of over-smart productions doing vulgar, opportunistic things with great plays, then Ariette Taylor’s recent production of Chekhov’s Ivanov at fortyfivedownstairs (that’s 45 Flinders Lane) was the place to be. It was an occasion of unalloyed joy and celebration.

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