The Bear – Doyle’s Pub – Review by Frank L.
The Bear by Anton Chekhov
Until February 2nd
In 2018, Judder Theatre Company, who are based in Doyle’s Pub, on College Street performed two new works. This year they alter tack to produce Chekhov’s one Act play for three actors “The Bear”. First performed in Moscow in 1888 Chekhov wrote “I’ve managed to write a stupid vaudeville which, owing to the fact that it is stupid, is enjoying surprising success.”
The space in which the play is performed contains no raised stage. It is in effect the corner of a room upstairs over a pub. It means that the audience must suspend its beliefs while the actors have to rely on a few props and their costumes to bring suitable ambience to the production.
The central character is Madame Popov (Geraldine Crowley) who has been widowed seven months previously. She is suitably dressed in widow’s weeds, looking adoringly at a photograph of her recently dead, not always faithful, husband as she indulges herself in the sorrows of her widowhood. She has a loyal old retainer Luka (Vincent Patrick) for company. He is attired in a well past its sell-by-date, black frock coat costume suitable for a servant. Her mournful solitude is interrupted by the unwelcome arrival of a creditor of her late husband Grigory Stepanitch Smirnov (Alan O’Connell). The story then takes on an unusual course which involves the unlikely prospect of a duel with pistols being fought by Smirnov and Popov.
It says much for Shaun Elebert, the director, that he manages to transport the audience from a corner of Doyle’s pub in the twenty-first century into the fading glory of minor Russian gentry at the end of the nineteenth century in this unlikely melodramatic tale which permits the actors a certain licence to over indulge themselves. The cast did not hold back.
To patrons of the pub they should ascend the stairs, and add to the pleasure of their drinks by immersing themselves, in this very different world, for a mere forty minutes. Afterwards they can discuss at a suitable length what that they have seen over another pint (or two).