THIS week had three theatrical highlights, although only two of them were planned and conventionally set on the stage. I took a goddaughter to Shakespeare’s Globe for The Merchant of Venice and any criticisms I might have felt for the production were entirely drowned by her self-evident delight at the experience. Rather more trying, in my view, was a production of Ivanov at the National Theatre.
It was well acted, but Chekhov’s worldview is hardly conducive to an enjoyable night out. The plot, not to mention the actions of the principal characters, seemed scarcely credible. So, when the narcissism of the eponymous hero finally and inevitably drove him to suicide, I inwardly felt that the fatal gunshot came at least 20 minutes too late.
But all this drama was as nothing to the third performance. This was an amateur production staged at home, in the early hours of the morning, by one of the children. It took the form of a violent fit of vomiting. As if in mockery of our efforts to clear up the mess, the other child slept peacefully throughout. When I got back to bed, I felt a dangerous flicker of sympathy with the outlook of the egotist Ivanov. JG