Directed by Howard Davies and Jonathan Kent, Michael Frayn’s Wild Honey is a comedy of errors that’s drawn from one of Chekhov’s untitled early plays which since its discovery has become known to many as Platonov.
Set in nineteenth century Russia on a large country estate, the play is rich with comic misunderstanding and unruly desires – ultimately it’s a cocktail that’s lethal for the deeply entangled characters and what starts as innocent summer fun soon descends into a farce with tragic consequences.
At the centre of it all is the village schoolmaster Platonov, played perfectly by Geoffrey Streatfeild who captures the character’s complex mix of wit, charm and foolishness while being pursued by four of the assembled women. Our characters are driven mad by a combination of the heat, vodka and lust with Platonov the reluctant ringmaster of this chaos – deceitful but never totally in control of the situation and desperately searching for an escape route.
One of the women vying for the heart of Platonov is Anna Petrovna who is played by Justine Mitchell. Witty, sassy and razor-sharp, she comfortably strings along several gentlemen until she loses her cool, literally and figuratively, in her pursuit of the real object of her desire. Justine renders her character’s descent utterly believable, retaining her charm in spite of her morally dubious behaviour.
The play skilful weaves each characters complex narrative and finds humour in some dark situations. Quick-witted and spirited, this vodka-soaked play is a real treat.
Wild Honey plays at the Hampstead Theatre until 21 January 2017. You can book your tickets via the venue’s website.