Donka: A Letter To Chekhov at The Gaiety Review

2011_Donka-I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival at The Gaiety Theatre.  A couple of things helped me along before seeing the production. Donka is German slang for ‘danke’, thanks.  Chekhov was a Russian playwright and short story writer who many consider to be one of the greatest.

The production was written and directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca ,who also directed Cirque Du Soleil’s Corteo, This is more than just a play. Pasca beautifully brings elements of dance, music in a playful and elegant way.

I’ll admit I didn’t have much knowledge of Chekhov and some words did, sort of, get lost in translation (Russian to English). This production seemed to focus more on Chekhov’s adventures rather than his literary works. This though, did not take away from the the exquisite performances on stage.

The show opens with silhouettes being projected on a curtain on the front of the stage. Acrobatics, dance, gymnastics, comedy and even ice skating all take place on The Gaiety stage and is accompanied by both recorded and live music.

Scenes with endless satin falling to the stage floor, ice chandeliers and juggling, scatterings of rose petals and a comedic hospital scene trying to stop a bleeding wound manage to engage and keep the audience what’s coming next.

Really enjoyable scenes and even if there was a slight translation dropout, this made for a unique evening’s entertainment. Stand out for me was juggler/actor David Menes who manages to ooze humour filled personality. If I could write something for the stage, I would, just to have him star.

Great opening night for the Dublin Theatre Festival.