The Yalta Game
‘People watching’ is a wonderful way of wasting time. Find a seat, buy a coffee and sit. Now watch. Who’s that over there? Ah! I see the anorexic is off running again – she should really watch before she pops something…Christ! What is he wearing? And with her? Makes you wonder…where did all these bloody pigeons come from?
It’s a judgemental hobby, requiring as much imagination as empirical evidence to take part. It is here that the Yalta Game opens, with an immaculately dressed Gurov sitting, soaking up the sun and leisurely squinting at the crowds of Yalta square.
Based on the short story ‘Lady with Lapdog’ by Chekhov, the narrative follows Gurov as he negotiates a love affair with a younger woman on holiday. It is an entanglement shrouded in the imagination; initially the happy facades Gurov creates to lure his prey, but subsequently a cloud which engulfs them both.
Entering their mundane realities once more, followed by the spectre of their Crimean flights of fantasy, everyday life increasingly becomes an afterthought to the ever present presence of their imaginations. In the end, far from resolving the issues or presenting a moral to the tale, we are left with an ending unresolved.
This is a final challenge to the audience and combined with some light hearted but often thoughtful themes of human psychology, adds to an excellent production. The Gate Theatre has also cast the parts brilliantly with Rebecca O’Mara and Risteard Cooper, who both give very strong performances.
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