Category: Anton Chekhov

Review: Uncle Vanya (Goodman Theatre)

Caroline Neff and Tim Hopper star as Sonya and Vanya in Uncle Vanya, Goodman Theatre           
      

Uncle Vanya

Written by Anton Chekhov
Adapted by Annie Baker
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru March 19  |  tix: $25-$85  |  more info
       
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March 2, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Stupid Fucking Bird (Sideshow Theatre)

Nina O’Keefe stars as Nina in Sideshow Theatre's "Stupid Fucking Bird" by Aaron Posner, directed by Jonathan L. Green. (photo credit:  by Jonathan L. Green)        
      
Stupid Fucking Bird

Written by Aaron Posner
Directed by Jonathan L. Green 
at RC Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Sept 21  |  tickets: $20-$25   |  more info
       
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August 25, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Three Soldiers for Sisters (Red Theater Chicago)

Victoria Alvarez-Chacon stars as Cookie in Red Theater's "Three Soldiers (for Sisters)," written and directed by Aaron Sawyer. (photo credit: Austin D. Oie)        
      
Three Soldiers
         (for Sisters)

Written and Directed by Aaron Sawyer  
at Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee (map)
thru March 23  |  tickets: $10-$20   |  more info
       
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March 6, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Bear (Adapt Theatre Productions)

Chris McGillivray, Laura Stephenson and Jack Bourgeois star in Adapt Theatre Productions' "The Bear", adapted from Anton Chekov by Shawn Bowers, directed by Amanda Lautermilch.        
      
The Bear

Written by Shawn Bowers
Adapted from Anton Chekov  
Directed by Amanda Lautermilch
at Heartland Studio, 7016 N. Glenwood (map)
thru March 9  |  tickets: $10-$12   |  more info
       
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February 20, 2014 | 1 Comment More

Review: Three Sisters (Steppenwolf Theatre)

(left to right) Sisters Masha (Carrie Coon), Irina (Caroline Neff) and Olga (ensemble member Ora Jones) yearn for Moscow in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, adapted by ensemble member Tracy Letts, directed by ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro.        
       
Three Sisters 

Written by Anton Chekhov 
Adapted by Tracy Letts 
Directed by Anna D. Shapiro  
at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted (map)
thru Aug 26  |  tickets: $20-$75   |  more info
       
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July 12, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Encores – After the Theatre and Other Stories (Piven Theatre Workshop)

Joanne Underwood and Daniel Smith - Encores Piven Theatre Workshop       
      
Encores: After the Theatre
     and Other Stories
  

Adapted from stories by Anton Chekhov  
Directed by Joyce Piven 
Noyes Cultural Center, Evanston (map)
thru May 20  |  tickets: $25   |  more info
       
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May 10, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Cherry Orchard (Piccolo Theatre)

A scene from Piccolo Theatre's "The Cherry Orchard" by Anton Chekhov, directed by Zachary Davis. (photo credit: Robert E. Potter III)       
      
The Cherry Orchard 

Written by Anton Chekhov
Translated by Paul Schmidt 
Directed by Zachary Davis  
Evanston Arts Depot, 600 Main St. (map)
thru May 5  |  tickets: $15-$25   |  more info
       
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March 20, 2012 | 4 Comments More

Review: The Cherry Orchard (Raven Theatre)

     
     

Spastic antics level Raven’s ‘Cherry Orchard’

     
     

A dance in The Apple Orchard - Raven Theatre

  
Raven Theatre presents
  
  
The Cherry Orchard
  
Written by Anton Chekhov
Directed by Michael Menendian
at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map)
through July 23  |  tickets: $30  |  more info

Reviewed by Dan Jakes

Chekhov and Shakespeare frequently find themselves paired together in the same sentences, and for good reason. Look at their respective repertoires, and you’ll notice striking similarities: both writers layer styles, open-ended philosophical questions, tones, and character intentions, often in the same scenes. No two playwrights in theater history achieve more poignant insights into how people interact and tick; look no further for bodies of work that lend themselves to unique visions and interpretations. The Cherry Orchard–a work as melancholy as it is hilarious–calls out for inspired readings that highlight different aspects of the text.

A scene from Raven Theatre's "The Apple Orchard" by Anton Chekhov. (photo: Dean LaPrairie)Staging a play that’s so full of details, it’s a mystery why Raven Theatre Artistic Director Michael Menendian insists on a mad-cap, sketch comedy-inspired, thin-skinned production. By sketch, by the way, I don’t mean SNL–think something along the loud, grating lines of MAD TV.

The Cherry Orchard is indeed a comedy, but bumbling cannot substitute substance (Fernando S. Albiar aught to consider athletic gear for the all the time he spends flailing and falling as Yeikhodov). Chekhov’s story about a family’s inability to accept its fall from grace detours from traditional comedic conventions. Most comedies portray a collective character perception of high stakes in low-stake situations; Chekhov’s doomed romantics and spendthrifts suffer from the opposite and don’t take their imminent situation seriously enough. Raven’s production chooses neither, abandoning emotional authenticity in favor of outsize gestures and broad physical jokes. Even straight man Lopakhin (Frederick Harris)–The Cherry Orchard’s Michael Bluth–is subject the over-the-top, surface-skimming character choices. Here, necessary tragic elements gets steamrolled. Like a light switch, Varya (Helen Young) clicks instantly on and off, sobbing like an infant for humor one moment and then standing inexplicably content the next. The play’s philosophical speeches, which are usually uttered aloud with intentional ambiguity, are delivered stand-up soliloquy style to the audience. It’s as if Menendian is going out of his way to make sure we don’t feel anything, unaware that when the drama dies, so goes the levity.

     
A scene from Raven Theatre's "The Apple Orchard" by Anton Chekhov. (photo: Dean LaPrairie) A scene from Raven Theatre's "The Apple Orchard" by Anton Chekhov. (photo: Dean LaPrairie)

Already hindered conceptually by an over-simple interpretation, Raven’s production is marred by basic production elements. The preview performance I attended featured confused staging and stilted action–issues that aren’t commonly solved by another few runs. As Ranevskaya and Trofimov, Joann Montemurro and Michael Peters provide some heart to the otherwise shallow production. In that respect, they’re alone. If the rest of the family doesn’t really seem to care, why should we?

  
  
Rating: ★½
  
  

A scene from Raven Theatre's "The Apple Orchard" by Anton Chekhov. (photo: Dean LaPrairie)

The Cherry Orchard continues through July 23rd, with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. Performances take place at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map).  Tickets are $30, and can be purchased by phone (box office: 773-338-2177) or online at TicketTurtle. Free parking is provided in a lot adjacent to the theatre; additional street parking is available. For more information, visit raventheatre.com.

    

     
     
June 9, 2011 | 1 Comment More