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Must boredom be boring?

Lantern Theatre’s Uncle Vanya’ (3rd review)

In
2 minute read
DelMarcelle (right) with Ann Gundersheimer: Mismatched costumes.
DelMarcelle (right) with Ann Gundersheimer: Mismatched costumes.

Chekhov’s work in large part concerns boredom and inertia, so it takes a particularly skilled cast to portray these traits without boring the audience itself. Had I not been seated on the second row at lantern Theater’s Uncle Vanya, I might have taken a nap. Instead, I concentrated on the characters’ terrible wigs and hairdo’s. Indeed, I couldn’t take my eyes off Yelena’s ill-fitting wig. Uncle Vanya’s hair (was it a mop?) was equally compelling in its awfulness.


Which brings me to the set. The poor samovar was required to symbolize everything Russian about this play. The set provided no hint of a garden or a decaying house— in short, no atmosphere.


But I quibble. It was the uniformly inept acting that I found most objectionable. Peter DeLaurier as Vanya lacked all subtlety, playing a clown with whom I lacked all sympathy. Charlie DelMarcelle as Astrov seemed to read his lines, rather than act them. He wore a sport jacket that you might find today on an Ivy League campus; indeed, all the actors’ mismatched clothing made me wonder what time period was being enacted.


Worse were the accents. The characters spoke or read their lines in mostly American English inflections. There was nothing Russian in the speech, nor in the costumes.


When a play focuses on a family, great ensemble acting is required if the audience is to believe that the characters are related. Whether it was the inadequate costumes or the makeup, age discrepancies were immediately noticeable. Since Uncle Vanya is rather short on suspense and shock— as opposed to, say, Chekhov’s The Seagull— a superior production is a must. This mishmash, sad to say, was a bore.♦


To read another review by Steve Cohen, click here.
To read another review by Robert Zaller, click here.

What, When, Where

Uncle Vanya. By Anton Chekhov; directed by Kathryn MacMillan. Lantern Theater Company production through November 21, 2010 at St. Stephen’s Theatre, 923 Ludlow St. (215) 829-0395 or www.lanterntheater.org.

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