I eagerly downloaded my purchased copy of the talented British actor Richard Armitage’s latest new Audible audiobook, “The Chekhov Collection of Short Stories” of Anton Chekhov’s short stories yesterday, June 11, 2020!
And last night I began listening to it, enthralled by Richard Armitage’s powerfully restrained voice. He does not shout nor jump out as the narrator with wildly articulated accents and such.
Rather, Richard Armitage’s performance approach here is very intimate in his reading of Chekhov’s short stories. And I found myself leaning forward in my seat, as if to catch more of the nuances of each character or detail of the world around the character, even though my headphones volume was just fine.
The accents he uses effortlessly enhance the characters he is sharing with us–in particular with the first story “Ward 6”. Click on the Amazon/Audible audiobook link for the story to also hear a sample of “Ward 6”. This compelling story is a detailed account of the inhabitants of a local asylum, how they came to be there, and how they cope from day to day.
Of course, my mind briefly thought of the book and film “One flew over the cookcoo’s nest”. But apart from it also being set in an asylum, the comparison ends there. Where that film is broad and flamboyant, Chekhov’s riveting short story “Ward 6” is a muted but persistent wearing away of each of the characters’ lives and their overall well being.
In his introduction of this audiobook, Richard Armitage shared bits of descriptions about the six stories that he has chosen to tell–from Chekhov’s massive short story collection.
And these chosen stories also serve as an insight into Richard Armitage’s research process for his role as Dr. Astrov in his recent London play “Uncle Vanya”–with each story sharing accounts of life as Chekhov experienced it, thus helping to create a vivid context of the lives of privation, struggle, and diminution also felt by Richard Armitage’s “Uncle Vanya” play character of Dr. Astrov.
And I am 1 hour into this 6 hour audiobook, enjoying listening to the first story shared “Ward 6”. So although the other stories in the audiobook might be a bit shorter in length, I look forward to listening to Richard Armitage share them as well.