Reviews

The Theater or Rolling Dung Balls

There was a time when high culture was high, low culture was low, and never the ‘twain should meet.  The middle-class intellectuals who attended plays by Shakespeare and Chekhov likely returned home to listen to Beethoven and Bach, later retiring to bed with a good, fat novel by George Eliot or Leo Tolstoy.  The popular […]

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Reviews

When You Don’t Have a Real Life, You Make Do with Dreams

While the Pearl Theater revives Uncle Vanya, Donald Margulies is rewriting it with The Country House, a drama that takes Chekhov’s interest in aging and disappointment and transplants it to the lives of people in show business.  As she prepares to star in George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession, the matriarch and aging actress Anna Patterson (Blythe Danner) collects her […]

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Reviews

The Days Are Getting Shorter

Fall has come and all of New York’s institutions are waking from their summer slumber, including the Pearl Theatre, the best revival company in the city.  They are opening their 2014-15 season with Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, a chronicle of old, disappointed Russians who have been doing nothing but “talking and talking for the last fifty years.”  The […]

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Reviews

You Might Even End Up Happy

“I had a love/hate relationship with Mr. Ibsen for a long time,” admits director Andre Belgrader, while one of his actors, Wrenn Schmidt, adds, “The first time I read The Master Builder, there was nothing about that play that attracted me to it.”  Though both eventually came around to the author and his work, the […]

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Reviews

They Should Have Left Vanya and Sonia and Masha to Chekhov

Parody has roughly the same staying power as the latest YouTube video or a song written by a thirty-year-old about life in middle school.  Highbrow parody, I suppose, can last longer—indeed, Kevin Brewer’s Island; or, to Be Or Not to Be, a recent, wonderful sendup of Shakespearean comedy, could easily sustain decades of revivals.  Vanya […]

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Reviews

Scenes From a Marriage

Ethan Hawke wants you to know that he’s a really serious actor.  When he’s not busy mentally masturbating with his pal Richard Linklater, he’s performing Shakespeare at the Old Vic in London.  Now, he’s dabbling in Chekhov, playing the title part in Ivanov at the Classic Stage Company. In it, he saws the air with […]

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Reviews

Keeping Chekhov’s Cherry

Chekhov is one of the most difficult modern playwrights to stage.  His writing, like Tennessee Williams’, is incredibly flat on the page–lines like “It’s just six years ago father died, and only a month later our baby brother Grisha drown in the river” read as painfully expository–and thus an incredible burden is placed on his […]

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