A marvelous production in every way, starting with a brilliant (and very well-chosen) cast. In fact - meaning this entirely as a compliment - if Jack Stehlin had merely cast this show and then gone away & drank beer for the rest of the rehearsal process, it wouldn’t have been brilliant, but it wouldn’t have been flat-out awful either. Time and again during this run I would look around and marvel at how well-suited people were to what they were portraying. Julie Dretzin’s Dunyasha, for example: simply gorgeous (and hilarious). Fred Molina’s Lopakhin: a subtle, powerful wonder. And Jill Gascoine’s fabulous Renevskaya. And more, more, more. If you’re a theatre hound like me you’ll understand it when I say it was pure pleasure just watching these people. And I had the best seat in the house - I was onstage with them!
I also did the sound design for this show, including writing some original music. Follow this link if you’d like to download & hear it.
Here are some of the reviews. I would just like to mention, though, that this show changed tremendously between opening night and closing; it’s a pity the reviewers didn’t come somewhere around week 3 or 4 because by that time we really nailed it. But (sigh), that’s how it goes when you play Chekhov: he’s one of the world’s greatest subtle-handed playwrights and it can take weeks, even months, to find everything that’s in the script. This is why productions of Chekhov are famous for improving with age; after a month or two in front of the audience you feel like you’re just getting started.
Jack Stehlin did a lovely job with this show, including a very beautiful set, which consisted of large scrims on wooden frames which folded in from the walls of the theatre. At times you could see through these into the rest of the house; then the lights would change and presto, we’d be confined to the foreground. This was particularly effective during the Act III party, when the play switches from broad group moments to small intimate exchanges, and then back again in the blink of an eye.
The costumes for this show were also marvelous; everyone commented on them. Very effective and beautiful, even if they were occasionally hot as blazes. We were doing this show during the summer, after all; and the Odyssey’s air conditioning isn’t the most powerful on earth. I took to carrying a pocket handkerchief on stage at all times. Fortunately, it suited the nervous temperament of Pischik to always be dabbing at his nervous forehead.
I look forward to doing this play again, someday. It’d be great fun to try playing Lopakhin or Gayev.