16 Possible Glimpses by Marina Carr at the Abbey Theatre

This is not a review. Just my notes.

Last month, I was in Dublin and caught a preview of the world premiere of the latest Marina Carr play at the Abbey Theatre.

16 Possible Glimpses is an artistic impression of the life of playwright Anton Chekhov. Instead of writing a definite biography play, Marina Carr set out to write her own Chekhov, and she shows us a man who is both contradictory and painfully human.

Personally, I also thought her Chekhov was kind of sexy, and that is an adjective I never would have used about Anton Chekhov in the past. The structure of the play is nonlinear, so Chekhov dies in the beginning, then he’s onstage for the rest of the night. We see him resurrected again and again.

Carr’s Chekhov embraces a lot of people, and these physical connections make the missed connections in Chekhov’s tragic comedies even more tragic. How often we are afraid to embrace each other in life. Chekhov had TB and did not have the luxury of time, so he had to embrace as much as he could.

The play asks the question: what is a good man? How can one be both a good man and a good writer? There is a great scene where Chekhov is trying to write a story to pay the mortgage, but he is constantly interrupted by people needing him either in his family or as a doctor.

The production also incorporates video. By projecting the actors behind their physical selves, what is said and not said becomes more distorted as some phrases become overemphasized. It also allows glimpses of actors’ faces when they have their back to the audience or to other actors. The focus is not so much on the talker but on the listener.

As I witnessed the play in the tiny Peacock theatre, I thought about how a person’s life is really just glimpses and how fortunate that we got sixteen possible glimpses of Chekhov. By the way, the play doesn’t have sixteen scenes. Sixteen never comes up. It’s just a random number. Now, that’s really cool.

The production at the Abbey closed on October 29th. You can find out more about it here.

1 Comment

  • By Robin Byrd, November 1, 2011 @ 11:35 am

    Fascinating…especially the line about time…

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