The Yalta Game

The Yalta Game premiered in 2001 and is adapted from Chekhov's short story Lady With a Lapdog. Dmitry, a middle-aged accountant on holiday, passes the time by playing "The Yalta Game", making up histories for the other tourists. When he meets Anna, what starts as a routine seduction turns into an intense romance which goes beyond their holiday encounter. But did their relationship really exist? It's an intriguing and witty piece which plays with themes of appearance and reality, alternating between intimate dialogue and monologues addressed directly to the audience.
"A teasing tale of summer passion where fact and fantasy collide"

The Reviews


17th Sept 2015

"The Yalta Game is a one-act play adapted by Brian Friel from a short story by Chekhov. It tells the story of Dimitry (Eric Petterson), who is a middle-aged accountant on holiday in the Black Sea retreat. His main diversion while there is to pass the time inventing outrageous life-stories for the other passing tourists – the game in the title of the piece. He meets Anna (Lydia Longman) who is a married woman on holiday with her, as yet unnamed, Pomeranian and decides to seduce her. This turns into an intense holiday romance but when they each return home – he to Moscow, she to Pargolovo (near St Petersburg) – it seems that their affair may not have been anything more than their own elaborate imagination.

This was an extremely well-crafted and well-presented two-hander piece. Both Eric and Lydia were spot on with their dialogue, which flowed in exactly the way discussions between two people would. There was one particular segment where Eric undertook a series of lines of nearly schizophrenic contrasts (think Gollum in Lord of the Rings). This was exceptional. The set was simple, perfectly suiting the studio auditorium, and sound and lighting were very slick. I should specifically highlight one sound effect where a waterfall was initially loud while the characters were nearer to it – forcing them to nearly shout to be heard – but which faded down as they moved away from it. Very, very well done.

Described in the show flyer as ‘Tea and sympathy with a dash of vodka and some little white lies’, Afterplay, again by Friel, takes two Chekhov characters from two separate books and plays out a ‘what if’ scenario for these characters after 20 years. Uncle Vanya’s niece, Sonya (Maria Head), now in her forties, is the only customer in a run-down café in 1920s Moscow – until the arrival of Andrey (Rubén Sánchez-García), the brother from Three Sisters. What follows is a conversation between the two, exploring the relationship between the facts of their lives and the fiction they would each prefer them to be.

As with the earlier piece, this was clearly well rehearsed and both Sonia and Rubén were on top of their roles and their backstories. For my sins, I am not familiar with either of the sources Friel is using, but this production of Afterplay has made me want to understand them. The tragic comedy of the two characters living their (sad?) lives whilst surrounding themselves with convenient fictions and fables to ease their bearing was very deftly and sensitively delivered.

In both cases, both cast members were on stage for nearly the entirety of their respective pieces. I know first-hand that this can be intimidating, particularly when long monologues or complex interplay is involved. I was mightily impressed by all four.

An educational, enlightening evening."

- Steve Young

Maskers Studio Theatre
15 to 19 September 2015

The Author

Brian Friel is a leading Irish playwright, best known for plays such as Dancing At Lughnasa, Translations and Faith Healer. He is perhaps the most Chekhovian of contemporary dramatists and that influence is apparent in these two short plays, together with Friel's own inventive approach to theatrical form and his recurring theme of the power of real or imagined memory.


Afterplay, a more straightforward piece, premiered in 2002. In a Moscow cafe in the 1920s, a middle-aged man and woman encounter each other. She's here to finance a rescue plan for her rural estate; he's a down-at-heel violinist busking for a living. But she is Sonya from Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and he is Andrey from The Three Sisters. In this autumnal "conversation piece" between two lonely strangers, Friel revisits the lives of those Chekhov characters and re-imagines them after 20 years of great social change. This little gem captures the bittersweet Chekhovian mood of comedy and underlying tragedy with warmth, wit and humanity.
"Tea and sympathy with a dash of vodka and some little white lies"

Director & Cast

The Director

Ron Stannard
Ron has been directing for more than 60 years in London, Sheffield, Manchester, and since 1967, in Southampton where he has worked with both Maskers and SUP. His first production for Maskers was The Seagull in 1969 and numerous Maskers shows since then include Three Sisters, King Lear, Home, Moonlight, Our Lady of Sligo and most recently The Weir in 2013. After directing two Friel productions for SUP some years ago, he is delighted to be returning to this great figure in Irish theatre. He is delighted, too, to be working again with Maria and Eric and, for the first time with Rubén and Lydia. He hopes they've enjoyed the experience!

The Cast

The Yalta Game

Dmitry Dmitrich Gurov played by Eric Petterson
Eric started a late acting career with Maskers in A Christmas Charivari in 2012. His straight acting roles included the Guard in Forward to the Right and Jack in The Weir. He also played James in The 13th Floor and a manic mass murderer in the latest Christmas offering! In 2015, Eric was part of Maskers' successful tour of Richard II playing John of Gaunt, and he played a loud wolf and a hunter in this summer's The Jungle Book. He is very much enjoying playing Dmitri in The Yalta Game.

Anna Sergeyevna played by Lydia Longman
This is Lydia's third show with Maskers, having played Catherine in Wuthering Heights at the Nuffield and the Queen in the touring production of Shakespeare's Richard II. Working with such a small team has been an absolute treat and performing opposite Eric constantly challenges her to be better. The close detail and beautiful language of performing Friel is a genuine pleasure. When not rehearsing, Lydia runs a Shakespeare company, 'Shakesperts' - bringing reduced Shakespeare to the masses!


Andrey played by Rubén Sánchez-García
Rubén joined Maskers in 2010, shortly after arriving from Germany, where he first acted for a (Spanish-language) theatre group. In Maskers, he's been involved in a couple of outdoor productions (a Spanish pirate in Treasure Island, and Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream) and a few Studio plays, acting in Chair and Zoo Story, and directing Butterfly Kiss.
In real life he is a university lecturer in mathematics, and married to fellow Treasure Island pirate Kate. He is delighted to be directed by Ron Stannard in this beautifully written and intimate piece of theatre.

Sonya played by Maria Head
Maria has been a member of Maskers for many years but has not acted with them since playing Marmee in Little Women at the Nuffield Theatre in 2009. She has performed in several open air productions at Mottisfont, including Mistress Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor and is delighted to be involved once more. Playing Sonia in Afterplay has been an exciting challenge and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to speak such beautiful and poetic lines.

Creative Team

Production Manager
Chris Baker
Stage Manager
David Cowley
Assistant Stage Manager
Rob Osborne
Set Design
Ron Stannard & Clive Weeks
Lighting Design
Clive Weeks
Lighting Operator
Paul Duell & Alex Rolfe
Sound Design
Jamie McCathy
Sound Operator
Gail Blues
Stage Crew
David Cowley & Rob Osborne
Sheana Carrington
Adam Taussik
Set Building
Clive Weeks, Rob Osborne, David Cowley & Chris Baker

Ticket Information

Tickets £8

Poster, Flyer & Programme

For the Maskers

Technical Manager:- Jamie McCarthy; Marketing Director:- Sarah Russell; Marketing Team:- Angela Stansbridge, Ruth Kibble, Leah Barlow, James Norton, Clive Weeks; Front of House Manager:- Chris Baker; Front of House Display:- Leah Barlow; Box Office Manager:- Chris Baker; Photography:- Clive Weeks; Bar Manager:- Jan Spiers
Image Gallery
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The Yalta Game

The Yalta Game

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The Yalta Game

The Yalta Game

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