mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli
mordicai

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One Must Not Put a Loaded Rifle On the Stage If No One Is Thinking Of Firing It.



Acting on a hot tip from onatopofthings, Jenny & I went to go see Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, with Cate Blanchett & Hugo Weaving. A regular Lord of the Rings revival! Between karaoke with strangers on Tuesday, Television Night on Wednesday & Sleep No More coming up on Saturday, I was feeling pretty swamped, but my question of "should we see Uncle Vanya?" to Jenny was answered by her with "I bought tickets for Thursday." Less so these days, but she's a big fan of the Russians. Me, I hate 'em, & Uncle Vanya bore that out. Wait! Let me explain before I sound completely awful. The first half of the play was done for comedy, & I really liked it. For a brief moment I thought it was going to be Chekhov's epic takedown of the cliches of the Russian genre. You know, there is a point where Uncle Vanya starts going off on a tangent about ennui, & his niece Sonya cuts him off with "I'm bored." That's right Sonya! It is boring! Instead, the first half of the play is filled with shenanigans. Hugo Weaving as the country doctor Astrov is great; he dances drunkenly around the stage & in general seems like a lot of fun. Cate Blanchett-- well I'll be a monkey's uncle, but she sure is a plausible casting choice for Yelena, the most beautiful woman anyone in the story has ever seen. We were up pretty high up at the New York City Center, but from there she was breathtaking. I wanted to get out my opera glasses! It is wonderfully undercut by her roughhousing around with Sonya-- they get drunk on vodka as well & she drags her around the floor-- & in general her physical comedy was spot on. Better than spot on; her flirtations with Vanya & Astrov are really well done too, just lovely command of body language. The problem is, the play has a second half. Firstly, Jenny got stuck in the bathroom during the intermission & sat far away from me for the first part of the second half! She came over during the scene change, though. Secondly, did I mention I hate the Russians? The latter half of the play is full of the pointless ennui that drives me nuts. Seriously, I just feel like that who Russian sorrow thing makes them all sound like spoiled twenty year olds. What is that? They're all landed aristocrats & the big problem is that-- gasp-- they might have to become part of the wealthy middle class? That isn't getting any sympathy from me-- eat the rich!-- but the play focuses more on the romantic mishaps. Sonya loves Astrov, Astrov loves Yelena, Vanya loves Astrov, married Yelena loves Astrov...shut up, you bunch of jerks! All your whining & carrying on about life being pain, trying to commit suicide to ease the pain of...what, someone who doesn't love you, has made it clear they don't love you, & you keeping trying to pathetically hit on? Oh man you bunch of stupid college kids. I feel no pathos for any of you-- maybe Sonya, who at least has the excuse of being young-- I just ooze contempt. So don't take it as a criticism of the actors or the adaptors or the performance as a whole! I just...don't like the Russian milieu. (Photo by Sara Krulwich.)
Tags: plays
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