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Anton Chekhov

Composer Portraits Series: Frederic Rzewski

April 30, 2018

As a composer, Rzewski is no doubt best known for his astonishing 1975 piano work, "The People United Will Never Be Defeated." It will take another century of listening and assessment to know for sure whether comparisons made between "The People United" on the one hand and Bach’s "Goldberg Variations" and Beethoven’s "Diabelli Variations" on the other will maintain their legitimacy. This Composer Portrait concert won’t solve the historical piano quandary: this evening excluded piano music, focusing instead on two string quartets, the first dating from the composer’s adolescence and the second from just this year. But this concert did provide an opportunity to consider important themes in Rzewski’s more than sixty years of music making. [more]

Breitwisch Farm

March 7, 2018

Esperance Theater Company’s artistic director Ryan Quinn directed the production. Mr. Quinn’s inventive staging is vigorous and aesthetic yielding in visually charged sequences that energize the uneven writing.  Watching the Super Bowl becomes a frenetic production number. [more]

Platonov, or A Play with No Name

February 20, 2018

Director Jessica Burr’s fast-paced yet thoughtful staging includes over-lapping dialogue, rapid entrances and exits all over the space and striking visual flourishes. Ms. Burr’s tremendous grasp of stagecraft markedly benefits the play’s morose and draggier second half which contrasts with the frothier first part. The performances are uniformly delightful. [more]

Mr. Chekhov and Mr. Porter

February 2, 2018

The first act is a faithful and skillful hour-long condensation of "The Seagull." The second act is a clever hour-long vaudeville-style amalgam of "The Cherry Orchard," "Uncle Vanya" and "The Three Sisters" in the detailed manner of one of Mel Brooks’ cinematic parodies. [more]

Drunkle Vanya

February 4, 2017

Periodically the cast calls for a “Family Meeting.” The theme from Jeopardy is played on a kazoo and three audience members are picked to come up. The one who is wearing the funniest nametag that relates to dialogue from the play is the winner, receiving a free vodka shot. Drinking games also take place. All of these festive tangents never sidetrack the plot of the play. Ms. Hudson is also the director, and her giddy, all-over-the-place staging in this large living room, enhances the exuberance of the piece. Improbably and cleverly, Chekov’s tone and intentions survive the mayhem. [more]

The Present

January 21, 2017

Upton’s version solves some problems and creates others. Updated to the 1990’s, the play is no longer about life in Tsarist Russia but the post-Perestroika world of Glasnost. While the original has characters talk about how much better life will be in the future, the new version has the characters wax nostalgic about the recent past but also talk about the challenge of the new Russia in the present. It is not obvious for much of the first scene that the play takes place in the Russian country. [more]

The Cherry Orchard

October 25, 2016

Directed by high profile new British director Simon Godwin, associate director of the U.K.’s National Theatre, making his New York debut, this "Cherry Orchard" seems to have no interpretation or explanation for a new staging. Stephen Karam, the author of last season’s acclaimed "The Humans," has written a new version which seems to be heavy on American ideas in this Russian play, while both the sets and costume designs get in the way of coherence and understanding. All in all this is a great disappointment considering the talent involved. [more]

The Country House

October 14, 2014

"The Country House" is an old-fashioned drawing room comedy about theater and film people inspired by the plays of Anton Chekhov. From Donald Margulies whose track record includes "Time Stands Still," "Brooklyn Boy," "Sight Unseen," "Dinner with Friends" and "Collected Stories," we have come to expect something more emotionally satisfying. Blythe Danner, Daniel Sunjata, David Rasche and cast are good company but do not make a very convincing case for this new play [more]