Theatre: CURTAIN CALLS

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The Independent Culture
When Declan Donnellan went to direct the Maly Theatre St Petersburg for his award-winning production of The Winter's Tale, he was initially disconcerted by the actors' habit of standing up whenever a director walked into the room. It seems an ironic form of courtesy for a company that encourages audiences to keep bums attached to seats for several hours at a time.

Donnellan's directorial stint with the company resulted from a long period of mutual admiration between himself and the Maly's artistic director, Lev Dodin. Dodin brings a depth of artistic interpretation and solidity of ensemble arising from the actors working on some plays for years at a time. He is himself disconcerted by the more fickle Western method of bringing actors together for sometimes only a few weeks before the company evaporates.

Dodin is once more in the driving-seat for the Maly's latest production of Platonov, which will combine Chekhov, an on-stage swimming-pool and fireworks for the delight of British audiences. It will be a welcome revival for a work which, although written by Chekhov in 1890, did not make it on to the Russian stage until the 1920s. The duration is a paltry three hours and 20 minutes. So, no cushions will be needed then.

Barbican, London EC2 (0171-638 8891) from 9 Jun

Rachel Halliburton

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