Theater Review: 'Uncle Vanya'

Director Dedi Baron, like Chekhov, has not flinched from exposing the characters' humanity - and yes, their lust for life.

August 12, 2009 11:37
1 minute read.
Theater Review: 'Uncle Vanya'

Theater Review 88. (photo credit: )

Uncle Vanya By Anton Chekhov Translated by Shlomo Moskovitz Directed by Dedi Baron Beit Lessin Tel Aviv August 9 Toward the end of Act IV, after Professor Serebryakov (Alex Peleg) and his young wife, the beautiful Yelena (Yuval Scharf) have left, the other characters re-enter, one by one. "They've gone," each says flatly, almost without emotion. Work, daily routine, comforting, humdrum reality may help overlay with scar tissue the near-mortal wound to their emotional and actual lives caused by the professor's disruptive presence. Marina, the old nurse (Miriam Zohar), gets her knitting, Vanya (Sasson Gabai) and his niece Sonya (Maya Dagan) grab the account books, too long neglected, and Dr. Astrov (Lior Ashkenazi) reluctantly sends for his carriage. He too must leave, resume his duties. Vanya realizes that he has wasted his life adoring and supporting an empty idol. He has been mesmerized by Yelena, as has Astrov, thereby destroying any chance of a relationship between himself and Sonya. Finally, when the professor blithely suggests selling the estate, Vanya snaps. Director Baron, like Chekhov, has not flinched from exposing the characters' humanity - and yes, their lust for life - even if it is a life far removed from what they have. Her vibrant approach to Vanya nearly works. Beautiful, for instance, is the feeling of long familiarity among the characters, her insistence that passivity has no place in a Chekhov play. Vanya fails where Baron allows vulgarity to replace reticence, in her seeming reluctance to define the period, in the women's truly awful costuming and in an overall unevenness of performance despite near-towering portrayals from Gabai, Ashkenazi and Peleg.

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