Sunday 21 September 2008


I went to see Ivanov, the first part of the new Donmar West End season at the Wyndham's theatre, on Saturday.

The play has been receiving rave reviews and I have had the tickets for about 4 months so I was very excited. Kenneth Branagh plays the title character and Gina McKee plays his wife, a Jewish woman who has renounced her faith to marry Ivanov. The play was apparently commissioned as a comedy and in this Tom Stoppard adaptation there is certainly a lot of humour, but this being Chekhov it also has very dramatic and poignant story lines. I don't want to spoil the play but you can read more about it here.

I really enjoyed the play and thought the whole cast were superb, especially McKee and Branagh, I particularly enjoyed all the scenes they shared and thought they both played the difficult scenes between a husband and wife facing illness and loss of love very well and with great empathy. The flitting between comedy and tragedy in the play can be difficult but the actors manage to really pack an emotional punch even when their dramatic scenes are short. I preferred the dramatic elements of the play but without the humour it would be a difficult watch so it is needed- and it's well done.

You can buy tickets for all four of the Donmar West End season here.

pictures courtesy of:



Unknown said...

So jealous that you got to see both Gena McKee and Kenneth Branagh on stage. I've had a thing for Kenneth ever since my favorite Shakespeare was adapted by him, Much Ado About Nothing. Him and Emma Thompson had such chemistry. And then she went and married another crush of mine, Greg Wise. Have you seen Branagh's adaptation of As You Like It, just beautiful to watch. Made me fall in with Bryce Howard (her hair is magnificent in it).

Rose said...

I was so excited about seeing the play! They really are both excellent, Gina McKee seems to fragile and sickly that I really wondered if she wasn't very well and I just love Kenneth too- but he is also very good.

Much Ado is my favourite of his Shakespeare's- he is so funny in it (the deck chair scene still has me in fits) and he and Emma Thompson do have wonderful chemistry. It was a shame they didn't work out but she seems very happy with Greg Wise who is also divine nd such a gentleman.

I am ashamed to say I haven't seen As You Like It yet but it looks gorgeous.

Unknown said...

Run and see it! Not as good as Much ado, but then again Much Ado is laugh out loud funny on its own.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Rose I'm so jealous you got to see this- I love a good play! BTW- saw the Duchess last night and really liked it...

Rose said...

Hi DC- I was very lucky to get tickets. Actually Nicole Kidman was in the audience with her husband which was also exciting!

I'm glad you liked the Duchess.

Perfumeshrine said...

OHHHH, not fair! You get all the great thespians and then boast about it! *just kidding*

Seriously, I find this kind of acting with a touch of human empathy and an injection of humour (and of course charismatic actors such as these) more affecting and more deeply moving than rather old-fashioned high drama.
And McGee is soooooo beautiful in a very quirky way. :-)

Rose said...

We are very lucky and sometimes I wish I could see more. There is a problem in the West End at the moment, which I think is a problem everywhere, of there being very few dramatic plays showing- I think this season is trying to address that which I am very in favour of.

Yes I know what you mean about Gina McKee, she really did inhabit the part, she almost stole the show.