Wild Honey

Wild Honey

Michael Frayn

Thu 15th November to Sat 17th November 2007


Wendy Mathison


Wild Honey is Michael Frayn’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s first, untitled play. Discovered posthumously in 1923, and known by several different titles in a number of productions around the world, it was not until the mid-1980s that it was given its most audience-friendly form by Frayn.

The result is a curious, but entertaining play that takes the sharp flavours of melodrama and farce and then simmers them down into an intoxicating melange of low morals and way too much vodka.

The story takes place in a provincial country estate (so what else is new?), where the widowed landowner returns for the summer after spending the winter months in Moscow. All the local friends and hangers-on gather to greet her, including among others two elderly suitors, the district doctor, and Platonov (the schoolteacher) and his wife. The widow wants to have an affair with Platonov--in fact, three women, one of them married, vie for Platonov’s attention; while Platonov, for the most part, tries to remain faithful to his wife.

The first scene of the second act is a classic comedy of errors. It takes place at night in the forest, just outside Platonov’s house where his wife is sleeping. Anna Petrovna, the landowner, appears out of the darkness and wants to spirit Platonov off to the summerhouse to make hay. But various other characters, some of them drunk and some sober, keep interrupting this rendezvous. One of them is Sofya, married to Platonov’s best friend, who wants to run away with him. The comings and goings in this scene are hilarious--reminiscent of one of Shakespeare’s comedies in which each character misinterprets what every other character says or does.

The play ends, though, on a dark note, or at least a sobering note. Platonov’s wife has left him due to these misunderstandings, and each of the three other women is closing in for the (metaphorical) kill. He decides to run away, and the play ends as he is running down the tracks distractedly, not paying any attention to the train that overtakes him from behind and kills him. This is not a tragic death; it’s funny, but also very sad. Platonov is, after all, a good man, even though weakness and indecision led to his downfall and meaningless death.

Ian Aldred, Christopher Barbour, Chris Blyth, Jo Butt, Caroline Coventry, Tania Grant, David Grimes, Caroline Mathison, Lorraine McCann, Craig McFarlane, Ronnie Millar,Brian Neill, Gary Waterall, Rolly York

Liz Brock, Gillian Burnett, Jo Butt, Penelope Ciancanelli, Cassie Coutts, Andy Ellis, Sue Ellis, J Gordon Hughes, Iain Kerr, Susan Wales, Claire Wood