BBC Play of the Month: Season 10, Episode 3

The Wood Demon (17 Nov. 1974)

TV Episode  |   |  Drama
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 17 users  
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A luncheon party gathers to celebrate a wealthy unmarried man's birthday; his sister hopes he'll marry Sonya, the daughter of a selfish gout-ridden old professor who makes life Hell for his... See full summary »

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
...
Khrushchov
...
Helen
Ronald Hines ...
Voynitsky
...
...
Theodore
Angela Pleasence ...
Julia
Cyril Luckham ...
Geoffrey Bayldon ...
Dyadin
Vickery Turner ...
Sonya
Anthony Douse ...
Zheltukhin
Daphne Heard ...
Mrs. Voynitsky
Jay Neill ...
Vasily
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Storyline

A luncheon party gathers to celebrate a wealthy unmarried man's birthday; his sister hopes he'll marry Sonya, the daughter of a selfish gout-ridden old professor who makes life Hell for his son George and his young wife, Helen. At the luncheon is Khrushchov, a passionate environmentalist, called "the Wood Demon" by all, in love with Sonya and she with him, but neither will say it. Two weeks later there's a family meeting at the professor's estate; two weeks after that, a supper at the cabin of Dyadin, who's cheerful to all. George, Helen, Sonya, and Khrushchov are each suffocating. Can any of them take action? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Drama

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17 November 1974 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Interesting but not essential Chekhov
1 May 2014 | by (US) – See all my reviews

An early variation on what would become "Uncle Vanya". More than many of Chekhov's plays, it seems to suffer a bit from an unevenness of tone. Chekhov was a master at fusing comedy and tragedy, but in this comparatively early work, the marriage seems a bit forced at times.

None-the-less, this more-serious-than-not play (and production) has its moments. Chekhov was second to none in seeing how families and friends could rip each other apart, without ever really seeing how hurtful their words and actions could be, just as developers and industrialists would destroy the forests for short term profit without thinking of how they leave the world in their wake.

Ian Holm – who I always love – is the title character, rabid about protecting what's left of the forests, but ironically unaware of the damage he does to the hearts of others. Holm is terrific, although the performance is arguably a bit theatrical for the world of small screen close ups.

The supporting cast is strong, although the characters don't seem as memorable as some of the other BBC Chekhov productions. If that flaw lies with the actors, the director, or the playwright himself was hard to ferret out on just one viewing.

Certainly worth seeing if you have an interest in the body of Chekhov's work, but not essential.


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