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Chatsky by Alexander Griboyedov  -  in a verse translation by Anthony Burgess
* The briefest of summaries: the hero of the play, Chatsky, tells the truth and is branded a lunatic.
* First performance of this production on March 11, 1993 at the Almeida Theatre in London, followed by a 6 weeks national tour with performances in Oxford, Richmond, Brighton, Newcastle, Malvern, Bath
* Director: Jonathan Kent
* Cast
* Associated articles/interviews
* Reviews - excerpts
* Reviews - full texts

Photographs - by Ivan Kyncl - from the Almeida Theatre programme

Director Jonathan Kent in discussion with Colin Firth's hands
Awaiting cue 
[In his best pyjamas?!  I like that pattern, really. ;-)  ren]
In rehearsal

more from the program:

...what is fifty miles of good road? ;-)
[The Deers wonder: "...what is fifty miles of good road?!" ;-P]

Publicity photos:

with Jemma Redgrave--with Jemma Redgrave-with Jemma Redgrave-with David OHara with David O'Hara

Reviews: excerpts - full texts

(Nicholas de Jongh's review still remains elusive...)
The Times, 18 March, 1993

[from a review by Benedict Nightingale]

Griboyedov's bitter comedy does not travel well. Its colloquial witticisms and scathing rhymes cannot easily be smuggled across national frontiers.[...] The play is a prolonged excuse for Chatsky to fling about in high-minded pique, denouncing Moscow and all its works. [...]
Sophie (a demure Jemma Redgrave) has fallen into the clutches of a whey-faced creep with a predatory mind (Jonathan Cullen) [...] Enter her former suitor, Colin Firth's Chatsky, his all-purpose contempt in no way dented by a three-year absence from his home city. [...] Everyone conveniently justifies his articulate scorn. [...] And so to the climax of Jonathan Kent's big, bold and in many ways impressive production [...]; all the guests end up crowded together in a venomous frieze, screeching insults at Firth's Chatsky, exuding his usual earnest charm. [...] 
[full text]

The Daily Telegraph, 18 March, 1993

[from a review by Charles Spencer]

Chatsky  is a dashing Byronic hero who in Colin Firth's performance spends  a lot of time attempting to look soulful and contemptuous at the  same time (a tricky task which finally defeats him). 

He has returned to Moscow after three years abroad and is deeply  in love with the daughter of Famusov, a reactionary government  official. But the sweet and sexy Sophie (Jemma Redgrave, looking  achingly lovely in her white nightie) has unwisely fallen for her  dad's smarmy creep of a secretary. So Chatsky moons and moans
 about his love life on the rare occasions when he's not railing  against the complacency, philistinism, servility and snobbery of  Moscow society. You wish he'd put a sock in it. 
[full text]

The Guardian, 18 March 1993 

[From a review by Michael Billington]

But it is Colin Firth who carries the main burden as a superbly tormented Chatsky: combining Alceste's anger with Hamlet's introspection, he makes you feel that the hero's disgust springs from a genuine social and sexual idealism. He dominates a vast
cast  [...] That is part of the overwhelming pleasure of Chatsky: it vividly shows the vanity and pretension that turns its hero into one of drama's classic outsiders.
[full text]

The Sunday Telegraph, 21 March 1993

[From a review by John Gross]

I must admit that I found the first half of Jonathan Kent's production somewhat sticky going. This is partly because of two less than satisfactory performances. Jemma Redgrave is simply too nice and too charming as Sophie - something stronger is called for; Dinsdale Lansden, as her father, defeats his own comic ends by spluttering too hard and generally overdoing things. Colin Firth, on the other hand, is an excellent  sombre Chatsky; but at this stage we still wonder whether his Byronism isn't a self-regarding pose. 
[full text]

The Sunday Times, 21 March 1993

[From a review by Robert Hewison]

By convention, comedies end in marriage, and when Colin Firth, as the tall, saturnine Chatsky, returns from abroad, once more to declare his love for Jemma Redgrave's rather insipid Sophie, that seems the predictable outcome. [...] 
The character is based on Griboyedov himself, and we can see in him a prototype angry young man. He is incapable of being polite to Moscow's polite society, which responds by deciding that he is mad. [...] By the close, Chatsky appears a Hamlet-like figure. 
[full text]

International Herald Tribune, 24 March 1993

[From a review by Sheridan Morley]

As Chatsky himself, Colin Firth has some difficulty explaining to us why the character should have become the Russian Hamlet. True, he has about him a suitably confused, melancholy despair, and he is the only one of the company written or viewed sympathetically: but nothing he ever does, such little as it is, really commands our respect or interest, and there is a sharp clash between the realism of his delineation and the cartoon nature of the caricatures placed around him.
[full text]

The Journal (Newcastle upon Tyne), May 1993: from a review by Andrew Smith

"The cast make a good job of the thinly veiled plot and Colin Firth is convincing at showing Chatsky as a man at the end of his tether. But Burgess should perhaps have looked a little further through the vast archives of Eastern European literature before experimenting on a British audience."



* Minnie Driver appeared with Colin again in the film Circle of Friends
* She plays Colin's fiancée in the film Hope Springs
* David O'Hara was his co-star in Donovan Quick
* The period in which Chatsky is set (early 19th century) coincides exactly with the period of Pride and Prejudice - as a result, some archived photographs of Colin as Chatsky were later mistaken for the images of Mr Darcy.
* As a consummate professional, Colin makes full use of the fact that his ears were pierced in his rebellious youth: he wore a real earring as Chatsky and also as Lord Wessex in the film Shakespeare in Love.

Some further info and links:

On this performance:
* The Chatsky page on Luvvie's theatre site:

On the play:
* The original title "Gore ot uma" means "Woe from Wit" and was also translated as "The Misfortunes of Being Clever," "Distress from Cleverness," "The Mischief of Being Clever,"  "The Importance of Being Stupid".
* For the particularly well educated ;-P: Text of the play in Russian (Latin transcription):

On Griboyedov:
* A brief biography:
* Even shorter:
last update: march 2, 2003
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