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Uncle Vanya: In brief
The Pearl begins its latest season of classical revivals with the most poignant of Anton Chekhov's classics, a bitterly comic meditation on the wages of self-sacrifice. Artistic director Hal Brooks steers a cast of company regulars.
Uncle Vanya: Theater review by Sandy MacDonald
There’s a reason repertory companies are going the way of the dodo, and it’s not strictly budgetary: one maladaptive trait is the tendency to shoehorn stalwarts into unsuitable roles. In the Pearl Theatre Company's rendering of this beloved chef d’oeuvre, Bradford Cover is optimally cast as Dr. Astrov, the dashing country physician/proto-ecologist who himself is fast going to seed. Although Chris Mixon overdoes the title character’s lovelorn sad-sack shtick, his Vanya is on the feisty side of morose, ensuring lively interactions. But as Sonya, Vanya’s niece and helpmeet, newcomer Michelle Beck is overly mild and distinctly not “plain.” She’s far more fetching than veteran Rachel Botchan as the supposedly irresistible young vixen Yelena (whose age is specified in the script as 27). This rather matronly seductress simpers and sashays while minor characters—allowed to run riot under Hal Brooks's slack direction—vie for the spotlight. Robin Leslie Brown alone, as an aged family retainer, seems to know her place. If only she weren’t so clearly cosseting her contemporaries.—Theater review by Sandy MacDonald
THE BOTTOM LINE Ill-matched agemates tussle in this midlife morass.