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The Woman Are in Charge.

By Robert M Massimi. ( Broadway Bob).Published about a month ago 3 min read

Robert Massimi

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To:Robert Massimi.

Sat, Apr 20 at 9:59 AM

For the modern theater lover "Uncle Vanya" at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater may very well be for you. This "Vanya" is not the typical play by Chekhov; in its new rendition by Heidi Schreck, we get more modern language, modern costumes (Kaye Voyce) and modern direction by Lila Neugebauer.

Vanya (Steve Carell) has spent most of his life farming the land so that Alexander (Alfred Molina) can carry on with his art studies as a celebrated professor and teacher. Both Molina and Carell as well as Alison Pill as Sonya are standouts in this production, laying waste to all the other actors in the cast.

Where the sound resonates in this well appointed theater (Mikhail Fiksel and Beth Lake), the sets by Mimi Lien are unimpressive. Lap Chi Chu gives us the support on lighting and her moods vary well amongst this two hours and fifteen minutes.

"Uncle Vanya" is slow at times, very slow due to Neugebauer's direction. Actors don't always blend well causing pockets of weakness in the dialogue. Both William Jackson Harper as Astrov and Anika Noni Rose as Elena cannot hold the stage nor the attention of the audience. Since the show is put in modern language, these two actors appear more like people in the inner city rather than stage professionals; even their body language goes anathema to this great classic.

In a slow-go of this play, the show does pick up almost half way through the first act. The dialogue and the melding of characters never fully catches its stride however. We get a mesh-mosh of thoughts, feelings and adversity, but the true feelings are never brought to the forefront emotionally. At the end of the play we get to hear Vanya rant about his feelings, how he gave up his life for the farm which is weakly portrayed at the back of the theater. The audience never feels his pain as Carell holds back and we never feel the strong emotions. More comedic than serious, he is at his best when the show has him bantering about.

In Voyce's costumes we get both the elegant and the mundane. Never overwhelmed by the garb, it fades away like much of this play does. For the modern theater lover, however, there are a lot of things in this show that you will like. The sets which never really blend with the show are intricate and give meaning to the modern. The deft sound keeps the play eery at times especially with the reverbs at different times during the performance. The backdrop in the second act is clever even though it is difficult to sift through the conventional writings of Chekhov... it goes against the grain of what we have seen in the past.

"Uncle Vayna" is a mixed bag and is not for everyone, it takes the conventional completely out of the picture and puts us in the new world of modern.


As we get further into the whirlwind season on Broadway, next up is "The Great Gatsby". It seems that so far it is a fan favorite. Much of the Broadway season has been successful so far and the box office receipts are proving it so. With big name stars on Broadway right now, audiences are turning up in droves. My "Uncle Vanya" review will be coming out when it opens. I saw it Friday night. It officially opens next week.

"The Lion King", "Aladdin", "Harry Potter", "Hamilton", "Moulin Rouge", No Bull With Raging Robert, www.solarwind.org, Broadway Bob, www.broadwayworld.com, Tony Awards, Dramatists Guild.


About the Creator

Robert M Massimi. ( Broadway Bob).

I have been writing on theater since 1982. A graduate from Manhattan College B.S. A member of Alpha Sigma Lambda, which recognizes excellence in both English and Science. I have produced 14 shows on and off Broadway. I've seen over700 shows

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  • Robert M Massimi. ( Broadway Bob). (Author)about a month ago

    Since "Cabaret" opened last night... a short comment about the show. Not as good as the other times I saw it. It tries to be to over-the-top and fails. While all the acting is admirable, the direction goes hay wire. With all the great theater out there this spring season you can miss this one.

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