Thursday, April 9, 2015

Living, Working, Resting with Vanya

I'm behind, but before I get more behind, a quick mention of Round House Theater's opening of Uncle Vanya.

promotion art for Round House Theatre, via Facebook

The best thing about Chekhov is the talent he attracts, and the talent on RHT's stage last night was virtually a who's who of Washington theater (alphabetically): Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey, Kimberly Gilbert, Mitchell Hébert, Mark Jaster, Nancy Robinette, Ryan Rilette, Eric Shimelonis, Jerry Whiddon, and Joy Zinoman.

The production was beautifully laid out, with characters entering and exiting from normally underutilized voms, and the language was updated accessibly by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Annie Baker.

Pre-performance discussion at Round House Theatre, via Facebook.

But even all this talent couldn't keep me from nodding off in Act One. It's not their fault, and it's probably not even Chekhov's fault, though he is probably one of my least favorite Russian writers (below Gogol, ahead of Pasternak). As it so happens, this week I rejoined the working Vanyas, Sophias, and Marinas of the world, and rest will have to wait.

That's sort of the gist of the story: We all work, sort of, and we all live, sort of. Some of us "work" a little uselessly, like the professor (Alexander, Jerry Widdon) who basically writes about what others have thought and written about, but who ranks above the brother-in-law (Vanya, Mitchell Hébert) who manages the estate that provides income for the family.

As for the women, we can be beautiful and desired but ultimately bored and useless (Yelena, Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey), or we can love passionately but futilely, plain and ultimately accepting (Sophia, Kimberly Gilbert). The only two characters who seem to go about finding their own way to happiness are the doctor and forest-saver (Astrov, Ryan Rilette) and the nanny (Marina, Nancy Robinette). They both live useful working lives that seem to fulfill them.

I guess that's as much as I can ask for out of life: a useful and fulfilling one. Funny to feel like a "minor character" in a play (Yelena's complaint). At least you're in the play.

love, hosaa
from somewhere in row D

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