Ever-inventive Open Space are touring comic Chekhov gems and a poignant ‘what if’ study from two tragedies.

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High-energy romp, The Proposal, sees man (Grant Filshill) call on father (Alan Bolton) to ask for the hand of daughter (Emma Martin). A land dispute quickly degenerates into a delicious, insult-throwing barney.

The Bear is a bad-tempered stranger (Stephen Picton) calling on a widow (Cathy Gill) to collect her late husband’s debt. His raging turns to instant infatuation. The old retainer (Patrick Quorn) and the attempted pistol duel are hilarious.

The Evils of Tobacco is a monologue in the form of a lecture from a hen-pecked husband (Alan Bolton) which is really about his wife and his own disappointing life.

Afterplay is a Brian Friel duet putting Uncle Vanya’s Sonya (Cathy Gill) with The Three Sisters’ Andrei (Stephen Picton) in an imaginary meeting 20 years after their own dramas. Their hesitant relationship on a tide of vodka and wild hopes is dashed on the realities of lives.

David Green directs perceptively, demanding no pre-knowledge of Russian theatre, just a readiness to laugh and feel a lump in the throat.

The show continues at The Pumphouse, Aldeburgh, on Saturday, Dec 1 and the Red Lion, Debenham on Sunday, Dec 2

David Porter

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