Samuel West


By Anton Chekhov
In a new version by David Hare

Festival Theatre
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Samuel West is unforgettably authoritative as the clinically depressed Ivanov.


In Samuel West’s fine performance, Ivanov is a definably tragic hero: a doomed figure intelligent enough to be aware of the danger of surrendering to a Hamletesque melancholy but incapable of preventing it.


Anton Chekhov is one of the undisputed masters of world drama. He is usually thought to hide himself behind his characters and stories, keeping his own personality well off-stage. But when he was young he wrote three plays, Platonov, Ivanov and The Seagull, which, with their thrilling sunbursts of youthful anger and romanticism, reveal a very different playwright from the one known by his mature, more familiar work.

Now the Young Chekhov season brings these three blazing dramas together to offer audiences the chance for the first time ever to explore the birth of a revolutionary dramatic voice. The plays show a playwright freeing himself from the constraints of nineteenth-century melodrama and herald the shift into the twentieth century, and the birth of the modern stage.

Nikolai Ivanov, a regional councillor and landowner, has tried to live his life in a bold new way, taking risks in everything from business to romance. Now his estate is failing, his wife is dangerously ill and he’s up to his neck in debt. To cap it all, he’s surrounded by malicious gossip.

Against his better judgment he sees an irresistible opportunity, in the adoring form of Sasha Lebedev, daughter of the Chairman of the local council. She offers her devotion, youth and beauty, but also the considerable riches of her name. But can Ivanov survive the guilt and shame scandal would bring?

Set in a remote backwater, this angry and outspoken play, streaked with satire, drink and anti-Semitism, is full of an outright passion Chekhov would soon forego in his later plays.

Young Chekhov promises to be an extraordinary event. Performed by one ensemble of actors, each play can be seen as a single performance or they can be enjoyed as one event, either over different days or as one intense theatrical experience on trilogy days on Saturdays 10, 17, 31 October and 14 November.

Samuel West returns to Chichester to play the title role having last appeared in Doctor Faustus (2004) and Enron (2009). He is joined by Emma Amos, Nebli Basani, Lucy Briers, Jonathan Coy, Mark Donald, Peter Egan, Col Farrell, Beverley Klein, Des McAleer, James McArdle, Mark Penfold, Brian Pettifer, Nina Sosanya, David Verrey and Olivia Vinall.

David Hare is a playwright and film-maker, whose work has been staged to huge acclaim around the world. Previous work at Chichester includes South Downs (2011).

Director Jonathan Kent has worked on many celebrated and ground-breaking productions across theatre and opera. His most recent work at Chichester includes Gypsy (2014) and Private Lives (2012).

Supported by Young Chekhov Commissioning Circle

Cast & Creatives


Cast List

Samuel West


Emma Amos


Nebli Basani

Piotr & Guest

Lucy Briers


Jonathan Coy


Mark Donald


Peter Egan


Col Farrell

First Guest

Beverley Klein


Des McAleer


James McArdle


Mark Penfold


Nina Sosanya


David Verrey

Third Guest

Olivia Vinall


Creative team

Cast List

Jonathan Kent


Tom Pye

Set Designer

Emma Ryott

Costume Designer

Mark Henderson

Lighting Designer

Paul Groothuis

Sound Designer

Jonathan Dove


Maggie Lunn

Casting Director



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Running Time
2 hours 30 minutes including the interval