Ivanov Nikolai Ivanov sits on a sofa looking desolate as the Lebedevs’ party swirls around him. He’s heading towards 40, he has no money, he has given up on his marriage and he’s drawn to a girl half his age. Oh, and his wife is dying and her doctor blames him for hastening things. Naturally this is a comedy. As Ivanov (Ewen Leslie) tells Sasha (Airlie Dodds), the young woman who passionately and naively wants to save him from himself, “comedy is tragedy sped up” and director and adaptor Eamon Flack makes Chekhov’s first completed full-length play very, very funny indeed without losing the underlying pain. The top-flight cast in this punchy, provocative production includes John Bell and John Howard, both in majestic form. The show is a palpable hit for Belvoir (and yes, the Hamlet reference is relevant).
Deborah Jones Belvoir St Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills. Today, 2pm and 8pm. Tickets: $39-$72. Bookings: (02) 9699 3444 or online. Until November 1.