Barry Slack directs Brian Friel’s The Yalta Game and Afterplay for Everyman Theatre Cardiff that are staged at Chapter, Cardiff between October 24 and 28, 2023. The plays premiered at Dublin’s Gate Theatre.
I was familiar with the plays of Brian Friel having seen Translations and Dancing at Lughnasa on stage and the latter as a film. He was obviously a gifted playwright.
An explanatory word about the use of “after”, its usage meaning that both one act plays are based on (or, “after”) works by Anton Chekhov. The Yalta Game focuses on a key theme from his 1899 short story The Lady with the Lapdog. Afterplay revisits the lives of two people, Andrey Prozorov from Three Sisters and Sonya Serebriakova from Uncle Vanya. They do not know each other.
Ceris Jones and Pam Wiener, Afterplay
Ceris Jones, Afterplay
My journey to the performance of these two exquisite plays is one of a lifetime’s involvement with the works of Chekhov. This includes performing in The Cherry Orchard (1992); directing Three Sisters (2005) and Uncle Vanya (2007); and reading The Lady with the Lapdog in 2008.
On learning about Brian Friel’s new one-act play including Sonya and Andrey, I duly saw it at The Gielgud Theatre, London, in September 2002. I wasn’t disappointed: it was marvellous… 21 years later and we have our production.
Both plays are different in style and structure: The Yalta Game, a narrative retelling of a short story in different locations; Afterplay, realistic and set in a café in Moscow in the 1920s. Yet there is a link in that both are concerned with love and the theme of illusion and reality.
Joshua Ogle and Simona Angelova, Yalta Game
We meet and see strangers in our daily lives. Sometimes we might invent names, or lives, for them, quite often as an idle holidaymaker. This is essentially the “Yalta Game” of the title. How do we know when talking to strangers that what they say is true? What is fact or fiction? We take them on trust. How much of our own lives is true? Both plays examine this theme.
It has been a real joy and privilege to work with such gifted and hard-working actors and creatives. My thanks to them for bringing these two plays to life