Brian Friel’s affinity with the work of certain nineteenth-century Russian writers is manifest in his own fiction and drama and in acclaimed adaptations of works by Chekhov and Turgenev. The Yalta Game, a marvellously inventive new play is based on a theme in ‘The Lady with the Lapdog’, a story Chekhov wrote in 1899. At an end-of-season resort on the shore of the Black Sea, a pair of strangers play ‘The Yalta game’: divining the lives of other holiday-makers or investing the lives of others with an imagined life. These companions in adventure seek an end to their loneliness by throwing themselves into the game and by almost convincing each other that ‘disappointments are only the postponement of the complete happiness which has to come’.
Brian Friel has unravelled a thread of Chekhov’s original and woven it afresh into a startling tapestry of deep longings and flawed resolutions.
Faber & Faber (Three Plays After) 2002