by Lynn on March 31, 2022

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person, as part of The Chekhov Collective Page to Stage: Theatrical Readings at the Red Sandcastle Theatre, 922 Queen St. East, Toronto, Ont., until April 2, 2022.

Written by Anton Chekhov

Directed by Rena Polley

Cast: Susan Coyne

Nancy Palk

David Storch

As director Rena Polley told the sold-out audience on opening night: “No other writer has evoked boredom, dreariness and ennui with such richly entertaining specificity as Anton Chekhov.

In The Darling, Chekhov gives us a glimpse into the unadorned ordinariness of Olenka Semyonovna, a young woman who blindly devotes herself to the men in her life, molding her personality to suit their interest and opinions. 

At first glimpse The Darling may seem slight, but a hundred years later critics continue to debate if Olenka is an object of ridicule, pity or admiration.”

The short story is hardly ‘slight’. It’s rich in description, life, humour, perception and all sorts of things on which the audience can pass judgement, especially Chekhov’s multi-faceted characters.

Polley also went on to say that Chekhov had his way with the short story form, as well, often taking away the beginning and ending and just dealing with the middle, or even switching the formation around.

The Darling is no different. Rena Polley has directed this reading so that it almost seems like a finished performance. While the actors do hold their scripts they use the whole space, move furniture, chairs and a divider around the space for full effect and humour. You soon forget they are holding scripts. There is wonderful interaction between characters and readers.

The sterling cast of Susan Coyne (who ‘plays’ Olenka, Nancy Palk who is the narrator and David Storch who plays all the lovers, do a wonderful job of realizing the depth of character and their foibles. At first Coyne as Olenka is demure, accommodating, almost subservient, but then love makes her bold and formidable. As Nancy Palk reads, she too invests nuance and detail into her narration. A look over her eye-glasses is only one instance that speaks volumes. Storch is an overflowing font of invention as all the lovers and a little boy as well. These actors are masters at their craft and any chance to see them in action should not be missed.

The run of the reading of The Darling is very short. Don’t miss it.

The Chekhov Collective Presents:

Runs until April 2 at 8:00 pm

Running Time: 1 brilliant hour.

Red Sandcastle Theatre
922 Queen St. East, Toronto M4M 2J5

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1 John Cummings April 1, 2022 at 9:11 pm

This was the most amazing performance I have seen in a long time. All 3 actors are consummate performers. David Storch in particular demonstrated how versatile an actor he is, even as a cat! It was a packed-out audience despite Covid. Having been deprived of live theatre for 2 years, I was so glad to be back in front of live actors at their their best.