Plays International – ‘Russian Plays are a Treat’ – Basil Abbott (19 November 2002):
Such is the acting strength of the RoughCast Theatre Company that you could draw a top quality company from the people who were doing Front of House.
Four Comedies by Chekhov were introduced by director Bruce Cox as the playwright himself, even if he looked more like Krushchev.
Russian plays need actors who can convey volcanic emotions and yet be aware of that painful strain of shyness and embarrassment which runs through their literature. In The Proposal they had the excellent Simon Evans, always a total actor, as a suitor whose wooing founders on the rocks of property ownership. He, Christine Lucy and Hugh Gandy as her father, enacted a splenetic scene which was a perfect dummy run for a marriage made in Siberia.
Alan Huckle (who appeared in three of the plays) then gave a tour de force monologue on The Evils of Tobacco, which was as good as any of the Talking Heads.
The Wedding presented a Dickensian gathering which made you wonder if the company could have a go at Nicholas Nickleby. Among them, Mike How as a Russian naval Commander, swamping proceedings like a Dreadnought, stood out.
The dream ticket was Barry Givens and Vanessa Webster in The Bear. They are two of my favourite actors. Barry is a big gentle fellow who lives and breathes theatre and has great range.