Next Best Thing productions

Directing Marriage

Rehearsing Gogol's Marriage - Next Best Thing productions - The Merchant of Venice

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“Marriage” is a forgotten comic gem. I felt there was an opportunity to introduce Sheffield audiences to a play they would enjoy, if only they knew it existed. In “Marriage” we have rediscovered a classic that deserves its place in the tradition of great buddy comedy: from “A Comedy of Errors” to “The Importance of Being Earnest”, from “Waiting for Godot” to “The Odd Couple” and beyond. At its heart is one of the great double acts of world theatre: two men, Podkolyosin and Kochkaryov, like Becket’s Vladimir and Estragon, or Neil Simon’s Felix and Oscar, shackled together through circumstance and habit and reluctantly reliant on one another in their struggles with everyday life.

I was keen to bring out the timeless nature of the comedy, whilst maintaining some form of historical context. In updating the play from the 1830s to the 1900s we have placed the decadence and deceit at the heart of this surprisingly dark comedy on the eve of the fi rst Russian Revolution of 1905 - a time like Gogol’s own - when the corrupt old order was being challenged and new ideas fl ourished. The staging also harks back to my love of early film comedy and there are nods to Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers throughout.

Gogol was a great writer, but he was also ahead of his time in his farcical plots and outrageous characters. I am extremely grateful to the translator, Stephen Mulrine and Alan Brodie Representation for providing us with a fresh and funny English version of the play.

Will Bird

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