The Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre’s Chekhov Celebration continues with the classic Ivanov, Anton Chekhov’s play that explores the meaning of life and love in pre-Revolutionary Russia. Not nearly as dark as other Russian works, Ivanov is billed as a comedy. Comedy may be pushing it a little far. Although there were moments of laughter (and indeed, one member of the audience in Saturday evening’s performance erupted into laughter even when the rest of us didn’t find the humor); I would term it a tragi-comedy.
|Nike Doukas as Anna seeks solace from David Whalen's Nikolay|
David Whalen portrays the title character replete with Hamlet-like angst exuding an unexplained grief coupled with frustration and self-hatred. Selfish to the end, Nikolay finally ends his suffering instead of finding happiness with the young and impressionable Sasha (ingénue Katya Stepanova) on their wedding day.
|Martin Giles and Katya Stepanova|
Well-staged in The Charity Randall Theatre in the Stephen Foster Memorial on Pitt’s campus in Oakland, the small platform is transformed alternatively as an estate garden, an elaborate reception area replete with crystal chandeliers and a well-appointed study.
Tom Stoppard offers this adaptation to modern audiences by brilliantly bringing the dialogue up to current, understandable prose. The costumes by PICT veteran designer, Pei-Chi Su, evoke the glamour and excess of the Russian elitist society.
|l to r: Alan Stanford, Matt DeCaro, Jonathan Visser, Martin Giles|
Having seen two of the four offerings in the series, I was entranced by the talent of the cast and their ability to portray lead and supporting roles seamlessly from play to play. This is no mean feat, considering the length of the monologues and the interleaving timing of the performances.
Ivanov continues for 3 more performances, through August 25th.
Photo Credit: Suellen Fitzsimmons
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