In this free adaptation of Chekhov’s classic Thomas Kilroy transposes the action from provincial Russia to the West of Ireland in the late nineteenth century.
Like all successful adaptations it is both an original work as well as a tribute to its source. The characterization, the plot, and the central story of doomed love and artistic hopes, remain very much Chekhov’s. In his drawing upon Irish history, the decline of the Anglo-Irish estates and the Land League, Kilroy has found striking parallels to the shifts in Russian politics and society that inform the original.
James Fenton described Kilroy’s version as ‘a work of illumination’ when reviewing the first production at the Royal Court Theatre in 1981. In writing this adaptation, Kilroy engages in what he calls in the introduction ‘a form of privileged conversation’ with the great, dead Russian playwright.