The first act comprises a dramatic monologue written by the great Russian writer Chekov. In a piece he called his favourite, a hen pecked husband dancing to his domineering wife’s tune is instructed to give a lecture on the harmful effects of smoking.
Husband, an enthusiastic smoker in the ‘David Hockney’ tradition uses this lecture as a means of settling scores with ‘her indoors’, standing up for himself and maintaining some dignity.
Smoking as such gets barely a mention!
Marital indignities are rehearsed in a funny sad way.
In a genius twist a subtle and very theatrical link is provided in the two pieces by David Bradley’s transformation on stage from husband into wife and so attired addresses her response to the husband’s subtle and snide complaints.
Spoken as a funeral oration the wife liberally and enthusiastically lists her husband’s shortcomings and how far short he fell in her expectations of him during their long marriage.
This is done while the widow happily chugs on a bottle of wine.
There are two sides to every story and love they say is a series of endless negotiations and accommodations .
Endurance perhaps, is the best revenge !
This is a seamless study in mutual incomprehension told from both sides.
Sad and believable as the nervous laughter among the audience suggested.
David Bradley demonstrates great understanding of the two contrasting personalities right down to the voices and nervous ticks of each character.
Writer Alison Carr of ‘Can Cause Death’ brilliantly commands her subject and the dynamic of the marriage.
The evening is an excellent theatrical experience.
It is short but carries a weighty punch.
When this show played at The National Theatre it sold out and I can see why!
The only regret I have is that its appearance in Newcastle on this occasion is only for two nights.
I hope that it will return soon with all the praise and celebration it deserves.
Alison Carr is a shrewd and accomplished writer.
Mr Chekov has found his soul partner in this study of a marriage .
On The Harmful Effects Of Tobacco / Can Cause Death by Anton Chekov and Alison Carr satrred David Bradley and played The Northern Stage (16th/17th February)
STAR RATING 9/10