Tamsin Greig shines in Boyd's Chekhovian play 'Longing'
Novelist's stage debut is full of wit and melancholy, even if it's not quite Chekhov
What you need to know
A new Chekhov-inspired play by the novelist William Boyd, author of A Good Man in Africa, Restless, and Waiting for Sunrise among others, has opened at the Hampstead Theatre, London.
Called Longing, Boyd's first play, directed by Nina Raine, is adapted from two Chekhov short stories, A Visit to Friends and My Life. It tells the story of Moscow lawyer, Kolia, who becomes entangled in a series of financial plots and unrequited passions when he visits friends in the country.
Iain Glen plays Kolia. Tamsin Greig plays Varia, an old friend who has long held a torch for him. Until 6 April.
What the critics like
Boyd's reverent tribute to Chekhov is steeped in melancholy and "illuminated by some lovely performances", says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. Greig is "especially poignant", while Glen "captures Kolia's flinty charisma".
This "wonderful" production expertly captures the baffled, tragicomic energy of Chekhov, says Paul Taylor in The Independent. "The actors are uniformly splendid". Iain Glen gives a penetrating portrayal of a "moulting heart-breaker" and Tamsin Greig is "quietly devastating" as lonely Varia.
This partnership between Boyd and Chekhov is "blessed with both wit and moments of deeper feeling", says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. The scenes between Glen and Greig create "a truly Chekhovian atmosphere of rueful longing and the cruel inequality of love".
What they don't like
Boyd aimed high, but he's fallen short on this first attempt, says Clare Brennan in The Observer. Nina Raine's sensitive direction and some "glorious" acting "save a debut from disaster". ·