London theatre is, would you believe it, outraged by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
According to the London Evening Standard (owned by a rich Russian, I note), the big names of British theatre raised over £60,000 (that’s about $100,000) to save the Dacha once owned by Anton Chekhov. The Dacha, also a museum, had become so run down under the Ukrainian Government’s management that, in the words of someone I’ve just made up, “something really had to be done”. So, a charity – the Anton Chekhov Foundation – was formed. According to the Standard’s Londoner’s Diary:
Top patrons included Michael Frayn, Sir Tom Stoppard, Ralph Fiennes, Kenneth Branagh and Prunella Scales. Earlier this year yet more admirers — Dame Eileen Atkins, Miriam Margolyes, Harriet Walter, Rosamund Pike and Simon Russell Beale — put their facepaint on for a week of fundraising at the Hampstead Theatre. Their campaign raised more than £60,000 and prompted the Ukrainian government to offer state support once again.
A job well done, you might think. But not, alas, if it is goes unrecognized. The Standard goes on, with perhaps a tinge of mock outrage, to report:
However Yanukovych, due to open the house later this week, does not seem to have any plans to acknowledge the hard work of the Chekhov Foundation. In fact, as he revealed on the campaign trail earlier this year, he even appears to be ignorant of Chekhov’s nationality —describing him, in a Dubya-like gaffe, as “a great Ukrainian poet”.