re: UNCLE VANYA Last Night
Last Edit: singleticket 11:52 pm EDT 04/20/24
Posted by: singleticket 11:35 pm EDT 04/20/24
In reply to: UNCLE VANYA Last Night - sergius 07:35 am EDT 04/20/24

It is a middling production but it is unpretentious and I found myself enjoying much of it. William Jackson Harper is a superb actor yet this was an Astrov without much anguish, someone who is quite bouyant in their misery, almost as clownish as Vanya. That's not necessarily a bad interpretation but I found it surprising. I liked Steve Carell quite a bit. His Vanya is a clown struck by the realization of his own mortality. Vanya might be more things than that but that is certainly a large part of him. And I found Carell compelling throughout. I liked the mirroring of Astrov and Vanya in the production where they do a kind of comic mirror dance together.

Anika Noni Rose is an unusual choice for Elena. She has a bombshell's compensatory "grand lady" affectations, think of Kim Novak or Raquel Welch. But as her performance went on I began liking it more and more. And by the end I think I saw an Elena that really is partially devious (as Astrov accuses her of being) and partially anguished. She is certainly not a classical actor but I found her magnetic on stage. I do think however that casting Elena as the exotic racial/ethnic other is becoming somewhat of a trope. I wasn't a fan of Alison Pill's Sonya. Sonya is a deceptively hard role to play I think.

The adaptation is very pared down with the result that some of the characters feel sketched in. The biggest casualty is Alexander, the professor, who has been rendered down here into a two-dimensional pompous ass. As wonderful an actor as Alfred Molina is and he's wonderful here, the role feels de-Chekhoved in terms of its complexity.

The brief musical interludes are lovely.
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