Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya1899, directed by Jacques Serrio, 2023. Performance view, private loft, New York, June 2023. Astrof (Will Brill) and Sonya (Marin Ireland). All photos by Emilio Madrid.
I’m feeling sick I’m writing about Jack Serio’s new work. Uncle VanyaBecause unless you already have a ticket, can afford to buy one on the secondary market, or have been granted access as a journalist (as I was) the chances of getting one because there is little or no please look. Produced by O’Henry Productions, the sold-out show will run for just 40 people in a private loft in the Flatiron District after just 16 performances. It’s the Lao’s of the summer Manhattan theater scene.
But, as Pete Wells once wrote, he defended his approach to writing about fancy restaurants where only a fraction of his readers actually dine. [restaurants]Food, rooms, wine and hospitality come together in a way that expresses the universals of our culture. ’ That seems to be the goal of many artists, and artists in this field and others, whether in the culinary field or not. Vanya. After all, Chekhov’s dramas deal with matters of the heart, evergreen matters, and fundamental questions about everyday human existence.
The revival of the classics is always accompanied by a dialogue with previous works. For me, the two pieces of his work that this piece seems to evoke most are the groundbreaking adaptations by André Gregory and Wallace Shawn (which Louis Malle shot in his 1994 film). Vanya on 42nd Street) and Richard Nelson’s 2018 in-the-round production at Hunter College starring Jay O. Sanders (a kind of sister work to Nelson’s own Rhinebeck cycle).As with both of these adaptations, the power of this work is Vanya Born of a bold and disarming intimacy.
Unlike previous productions, Serio’s Vanya It’s not meant to be crushed. An elegant design by Walt Spangler (whose antique furniture matches Carrie Mossman’s tasteful props and conveys the fact that we’re in a Manhattan apartment without trying to hide it) is instead , is played in an understated minor key, overshadowed by darker tones. , a bluesy sense of shame: the shame of being flawed, the shame of having unfulfilled desires, the shame of living an unremarkable life. The most poignant moments in this work are not the climactic screaming moments of the play, but rather the quiet and melancholy duets between misfits who cannot communicate with each other. Scenes of tenderness and vulnerability seem largely in keeping with modern sensibilities and aesthetics. I prefer Tennessee Williams to everyone’s favorite Russian doctor. That’s not against Serio’s vision. On the contrary, his work is a refreshing and revealing prism for appreciating Chekhov’s infinitely rich tale of lives and dreams that collide in a country mansion.
Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya1899, directed by Jacques Serrio, 2023. Performance view, private loft, New York, June 2023. Marina (Virginia Wing), Astroff (Will Brill) and Vanya (David Cromer).
I haven’t seen every play that’s being put on in New York right now, but it’s hard to imagine two plays that are better than this one. Vanya. No, I’m not talking about her two celebrities on this show, David Cromer and Bill Irwin. These two bastions of his are his two bastions in the American theater world, whose contributions to a career and thriving arts are impeccable. It’s thrilling to see the two of them working so close together, but the brightness that overwhelms them and overwhelms me is actors Marin Ireland (as Sonya) and Will Brill (as Astroff). emanating from
Ireland is a revelation, her every glance and gesture is filled with longing, anxiety and passion that sometimes keeps us up at night. If I was someone else, if people could see me for who I cared for, I really am. Brill, meanwhile, brings her weary, ironic luminosity to her portrayal of a small-town doctor struggling with the reality of getting old and dislocated in the world. Together, they present with breathtaking authenticity portraits of lonely people in the agony of hopeless longing, devastated by devastating self-doubt and self-loathing. .
Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya1899, directed by Jacques Serrio, 2023. Performance view, private loft, New York, June 2023. Sonya (Marin Ireland) and Vanya (David Cromer).
But the play is neither called “Niece Sonya” nor “Doctor Astrov”.I have a lot of respect for Cromer (his our town, which ran at the old Barrow Street Theater in 2009, and which he starred in and directed, is still the crowning highlight of my theater experience), but I’m not a fan of his brooding and moody. I found it difficult to sympathize with Vanya, who was distraught in . (Full disclosure: I saw it on opening night of the show, and it’s possible this is the sort of thing that will work out as he gets used to the role.) Sean is criticized for the character’s pathetic state and Saunders’ It gave us a playful goofiness that offsets its charming charisma. Serio always makes his performances funny and engaging, but Cromer’s Vanya almost disappears into the melancholy, flattening him out and pushing him out of the center of the play, effectively throwing the whole thing off balance.
Irwin, in his role (and having just completed Beckett’s memorable turn as Kloff) end game Ireland), he’s always been in the spotlight and that’s the case here. His Serebryakoff is arrogant, jerky and detached. But his other major standout in the cast is Will Telegin (aka Waffles) in his daggers. This performance is a performance rich in delicacy and cunning and sly inventions. In particular, his acoustic guitar interludes add emotion and nuance to the playing. minutes.
But what makes this happen is the portrayal offered by Ireland and Brill. Uncle Vanya It’s a special piece, and like most of Chekhov’s plays, it was first produced in 1899 (Cerio used Paul Schmidt’s translation) and serves as a reminder that it’s not old. We still talk about the disappearance of the world we once knew. We are still worried about the looming ecological threat. We still have bad feelings about getting old. We worry that we are ugly and that the life we are living is worthless. We are still asking the same question. How can we achieve happiness? What are the mechanisms that allow us to tolerate our own imperfections? How are we remembered?
In this piece, ghosts from another era, another culture are reanimated to present us with the same answers that we are still stuck with: very few. We are all messing around in the dark and doing our best. No one thinks of us as much as we think of ourselves. Life is made up of the small, insignificant things we do every day. And then there is the curtain.
Uncle Vanya will run from June 28th to July 16th at a private loft in New York City’s Flatiron District.