The Masquerade is Lermontov’s four act-play written in verse and set in the 1830s St. Petersburg. This very Shakespearean drama centres on Yevgeny Arbenin, once an immoral gambler and womaniser without scruples, but now it seems a decent man respected by society, especially since his marriage to a kind and beautiful young woman Nina. One day, however, Arbenin’s desire to rescue a man from financial disaster at a gambling table, malicious rumours, as well as his wife losing a bracelet during a masquerade ball set in motion a series of events that culminate in an unthinkable tragedy, as Arbenin’s jealous predisposition and his propensity to seek revenge overpower common sense, love and basic human considerations.
I watched Conor McPherson’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s celebrated play Uncle Vanya , filmed at Harold Pinter Theatre in London in 2020. Directed by Ian Rickson and starring such names as Toby Jones (The Painted Veil (2006)), Roger Allam (V for Vendetta (2005)) and Richard Armitage (Hobbit (2012)), the story concerns an aging Professor Serebryakov, his young wife Yelena, his brother-in-law Uncle Vanya (by Serebryakov’s first wife), Serebryakov’s daughter Sonya, his mother-in-law Mariya (also by Serebryakov’s first wife) and a local doctor Astrov, who all try to come to terms with their different stations and situations in life. Uncle Vanya is living comfortably on Serebryakov’s estate, which belongs legally to Sonya, and “does nothing”, but the situation takes a turn for the worse when Professor suddenly announces that he would like to sell the house and the land. The situation is even more complicating because almost all men in the story are infatuated with Serebryakov’s beautiful wife Yelena and tensions soon reach a boiling point. This is a play which hinges on great performances and the cast delivers. This is a stylish and considerate adaptation of the play which has a very human drama at its centre.