Theatre Review: In and Out of Chekov’s Shorts at The Carriageworks Theatre

Providing some much-needed light relief, Dragonboy Productions tour with their latest creation In and Out of Chekov’s Shorts, stopping at The Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds where Leo Owen caught the show

POSING as a travelling gypsy troupe, this talented five-piece (Elisabeth Snegir, Graeme Dalling, Laura Singleton, Tom Neill and writer/director Eliot Giuralarocca) sing, dance and play a variety of instruments live on stage, weaving together five of Chekov’s short stories (The Lady with the Little Dog, The Chemist’s Wife, At a Summer Villa, An Avenger and The Bear) linked by their universal romanticism. Playing multiple characters, the cast directly address the audience, narrating stories of flirtation, anonymous love notes, playful trickery, fleeting affairs, adultery and preposterous financial disputes.

Heart-warming tales injected with Dragonboy’s cheeky sense of humour, In and Out of Chekov’s Shorts celebrates life’s absurdity through little touches like blue berets signalling secret meetings. The show is at its most humorous during delightful scenes involving a fast-talking highly persuasive gun seller casually suggesting the stock most suited for suicide.

With minimal set and props, Dragonfly instead rely on Chekov’s lyrical writing to bring scenes to life and complement his beautiful descriptions with well-judged first-person narration, live sound effects and highly expressive physical theatre. Although his stories are undoubtedly a product of their time rather misogynistically repeatedly referencing “the weaker sex”, they remain a celebration of life’s unpredictability and are certainly breezy escapism during this dark political climate.

In and Out of Chekov’s Shorts showed at The Carriageworks September 24th before continuing its UK tour: