August 4, 1995 |
The selfish old lecher who travels to a remote, run-down country estate wonders if the cases of wine have been damaged by the journey. Much the same query could be raised against the idea of moving Chekhov's beloved Uncle Vanya from Russia to Australia just after World War I. Country Life wastes little time in showing that old wine can do very well in a new bottle. Just as Shakespeare's plays can survive and flourish - however they are relocated and reimagined - Uncle Vanya is an equally pliant masterpiece.
January 23, 1998 |
A Russian filmmaker whose credits include a definitive Uncle Vanya, an epic of life in Siberia, a ritzy Hollywood action film, a TV miniseries of Homer's Odyssey and even an instantly forgettable Sylvester Stallone outing (Tango and Cash) surely redefines the meaning of artistic range. Andrei Konchalovsky is now 60 years old, and his life has encompassed both controversy and distinction in his homeland and an eclectic up-and-down career in Hollywood. This weekend, International House is hosting a well-chosen retrospective of Konchalovsky that touches on both sides of his rather schizoid persona as a director.
October 29, 2010 |
If Russia's iconic playwright Anton Chekhov were alive today, he might have created the exact same script for Uncle Vanya that he wrote in 1896 - or so it seems at the striking Lantern Theater production that opened in Center City on Wednesday night. That's because Kathryn MacMillan's production, whose cast brings off Uncle Vanya with a straightforward approach that could be labeled The Feel of Real, makes the classic fresh, as if it were newly plucked from some bush that blossoms with plays.
January 19, 1994 |
I have met "Three Sisters," "The Seagull" and "The Cherry Orchard" on a number of occasions, but fate, until now, has withheld from me an acquaintance with the other member of Anton Chekhov's Big Four, "Uncle Vanya. " Fate has been extraordinarily kind in this instance, for the "Uncle Vanya" served up to me the other evening at the Annenberg Center's Harold Prince Theater was a feast so beautifully and intelligently staged that it likely will reign as the standard against which I'll match all subsequent productions set before me. My "Uncle Vanya No. 1" is the Carol Rocamora-translated and directed production that has auspiciously raised the curtain on the 1994 season of the Philadelphia Festival Theater for New Plays.
May 19, 1987 |
The impression that Chekhov's characters are talking to themselves rather than to one another is heightened in the curious production of Uncle Vanya that noted Soviet director Georgi Tovstonogov has staged for the McCarter Theater Company. Moments of intimacy are rare in this protracted reading. The characters who populate Chekhov's country estate inhabit their own space. Conversations often are carried on at maximum distance. Speeches are delivered to the ambient air, sometimes with the speaker aimlessly on the move.
November 12, 1986 |
Best known in the United States for Runaway Train (1985) and Maria's Lovers (1984), Soviet emigre director Andrei Konchalovsky has made a number of literary adaptations, among them 1972's moody Uncle Vanya. Konchalovsky's compelling interpretation of the 1898 Anton Chekhov play rarely leaves the drawing room of a provincial Russian estate, thus enabling the director to explore his characters' claustrophobia. They're confined by a crumbling estate that's an analogue of their inner lives: Both the landscape and their emotions have been farmed past the point of diminishing returns.
December 23, 1994 |
Chekhov ain't easy. The great Russian playwright wrote about depressed, relatively well-off country folks in the era just before their whole class was swept away by the Russian Revolution. But even though doom and languid gloom hang heavy over most of Chekhov's work, there's a more complicated, lively and even funny side to his writing. This is not always projected from the stage. Amazingly, theater director Andre Gregory's production of "Uncle Vanya," as recorded in Louis Malle's enthralling "Vanya on 42nd Street," brings out all of the contradictory, Chekhovian humanity that more elaborate stagings sometimes fail to expose.
February 27, 1995 |
"Don't worry," the man behind me assured his intermission companion at Circle in the Square's new Uncle Vanya. "It gets better. " Well, the play does, anyway. It isn't until the third act, after all, that playwright Anton Chekhov has the distraught Vanya fire a couple of pistol shots in the general direction of old Serebryakov, the windbag professor who proposes to reward Vanya's lifelong devotion by selling the estate from which Vanya makes his living. That tends to liven things up, you may be sure, in the secluded country house whose calm has been ruffled by the arrival of Serebryakov and his beautiful young wife, Yelena.
September 18, 2012 |
Brush up your Chekhov - Christopher Durang's newest comedy, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike , is premiering at McCarter Theater Center in Princeton and on its way to New York's Lincoln Center. It stars Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce in roles perfect for them, along with a group of less-famous-but-just-as-fine actors under Nicholas Martin's featherlight direction. Durang has written some hilarious parodies (my favorite is Desire Desire Desire , a send-up of Streetcar )
March 24, 2014 |
Philadelphia, meet Anton Chekhov. In 2005, Walt Whitman came to town, with the 150th anniversary of the debut of the Camden bard's Leaves of Grass . Last year, Jane Austen stomped in, partying like it was 2013 for the bicentennial of Pride and Prejudice . Shakespeare visits, it seems, every year (including this one, the 450th anniversary of his birth). Well, make way for Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), physician, master of the short story, and one of history's great playwrights.