Following a sold-out, critically acclaimed engagement in Sydney, Australia last August, The Present, Andrew Upton’s new adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s first play, Platonov, will be presented on Broadway for a limited engagement in the early Winter of 2016.
The Present, directed by John Crowley, will see Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh make their Broadway debuts, reprising the roles of Anna and Mikhail. The production will also feature a Sydney Theatre Company all-Australian cast. Behind the scenes, set and costume design is by Alice Babidge, with lighting design by Nick Shlieper and sound design from Stefan Gregory.
The Present is variously known as Platonov, Wild Honey, Fatherlessness and The Disinherited. And whilst it is Anton Chekhov’s first play, it was not first discovered until 1920, some 16 years after the playwright’s death. Upton’s adaptation is set post-Perestroika in the mid-1990s at an old country house where friends gather to celebrate the birthday of the independent but compromised widow Anna Petrovna (Blanchett).
At the center is the acerbic and witty Platonov (Roxburgh) with his wife, his former students and friends and their partners. They may appear comfortable, but boiling away inside is a mess of unfinished, unresolved relationships, fuelled by twenty years of denial, regret and thwarted desire.
Whilst Blanchett and Roxburgh are making their Broadway debuts, they should not be unfamiliar to New York audiences. They previously appeared together on the New York Stage in STC’s acclaimed production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, also adapted by Upton. Blanchett also appeared in STC’s New York stagings of Hedda Gabler, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Maids.
Further casting, a theatre and opening dates have yet to be announced, but with Australian critics describing the production as “masterful” and “brilliantly blistering” it certainly shouldn’t be missed. Stay tuned for more information.