Jemima Levick and Jo Clifford adapt Tolstoy's Anna Karenina for the Dundee Rep

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Jemima Levick and Jo Clifford adapt Tolstoy's Anna Karenina for the Dundee Rep

Jemima Levick is what you might call a safe pair of hands – a fact borne witness to by a string of well-received shows at Dundee Rep and an armful of awards from her freelance days. Couple that reputation with a classic novel and a script by Jo Clifford of which Levick has an intimate knowledge (‘it’s a joyous adaptation and I love it’) from her time as assistant director on the Lyceum’s 2005 production and a hit seems almost guaranteed.

If there is a surprise though, it will come in her decision not to focus entirely on the familiar love story: this new production is presented less as the fallout from one woman’s all-consuming passion and much more as a set of dualisms, with the story of the country landowner Levin balancing out that of urban society lady Anna and making this ‘a much more societal sort of play’, and nevertheless one that deals in dialectics rather than didactics. Levick puts the shift down to increased years and maturity since her last dealings with the text: ‘You realise that without Levin’s story, Anna’s almost feels quite trite, and equally if you just had Levin’s story, you wouldn’t want to read that book on its own either.’

She is quick, however, to dispute the suggestion that Anna is any sort of outdated, irrational, passion-led female stereotype. ‘It’s frustrating in that she’s a product of her time,’ says Levick, ‘but her concerns and her commitment to what her heart desires feel very modern. She feels different to the rest, she has something inside of her that one would like to be able to pinpoint in oneself.’

Dundee Rep, Mon 23 May–Sat 11 Jun.

Anna Karenina

  • 4 stars

Tolstoy's tragic tale of love, sex, marriage and morals set in imperial Russia is brought to life by the award winning director/designer team of Jemima Levick and Alex Lowde.

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