Echoes of Chekhov

InterAct Theatre Company presents Stephanie Satie’s The Last Parade

3 minute read
Howard, wearing black and frowning in the foreground. Walton, Weintzweig, & Moyer comfort each other sadly in the background.
From left, Adam Howard, Leah Walton, Ava Weintzweig, and Tim Moyer in the world premiere of ‘The Last Parade’ at InterAct. (Photo courtesy of InterAct.)

It has been a little less than a year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the fight is far from over. The conflict has created an immigration crisis across Europe and the Americas as millions of Ukrainians flee their homeland for safety, many with the hope that they will someday return. In many ways, the situation is unprecedented. In many others, it’s similar to a previous Ukrainian mass exodus, when nearly two million Jews left the country in the years immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union. Now onstage at InterAct Theatre, Stephanie Satie’s The Last Parade imagines one of these post-Soviet Jewish families.

The story of The Last Parade would be poignant at any time, but premiering when the current Ukrainian conflict is still so top-of-mind for so many of us makes it doubly relevant.

Fraught and civilized, familiar and foreign

Set in 1992, the play revolves around a multigenerational Ukrainian Jewish family, some of whom are desperate to leave the country. Mother Zoya (Leah Walton) would be happy with either Israel or the US. Daughter Anya (Ava Weintzweig) will only accept a move to the US, but father Leon (Anthony Lawton) is convinced he cannot thrive in America. Grandfather Yasha (Tim Moyer) is along for the ride, and son Borya (Adam Howard), who also serves as the play’s narrator is simply not planning on going anywhere.

The conflict is both inter- and intragenerational, fraught and civilized. To the audience, it is both familiar and foreign. As the various members of the family work with, for, and sometimes against each other, the tension builds and the urgency to leave Ukraine becomes more and more palpable. Here in the States, we can imagine there are many Ukrainian families today, Jewish or not, who are experiencing something very similar.

A family in limbo

The small company of The Last Parade turns in beautiful performances, including the challenging conceit to speak with Russian accents only when they are practicing English or addressing non-Russian speakers—like those of us in the audience. Howard, the first actor on stage, opens with Borya’s monologue delivered in a discernible Russian accent before transitioning to unaccented English when speaking directly with the other actors onstage. This isn’t a groundbreaking dramaturgical choice—this approach to writing and directing characters who are reciting in English lines that would have been delivered, in the real world, in another language, has been done many times before—but it’s effective.

The action takes place on a set loaded with stacked furniture covered in plastic. Zoya plans to take the assorted rugs and chairs with her to her new home, as if she will be unable to purchase new furniture when she arrives. It lends the space a ghostly, Cherry Orchard-like feel—strengthened later in the play with a joke referencing Chekhov’s seminal work—and also emphasizes the uncertainty and liminality of the characters’ current circumstances. Kudos to scenic designer Chris Haig, lighting designer Lindsay Stevens, and props master Kelly Palmer for accomplishing so much while showing so little.

An accomplished premiere

For all its highlights—and there are a good many—The Last Parade still encounters some of the pitfalls that many other world-premiere works face: some scenes feel rough and unfinished, or else they feel like they needed a heavier edit. The play runs about two hours including a 15-minute intermission, with the first act much longer and, at times, clunkier.

Still, The Last Parade accomplishes much of what it sets out to do, with the added bonus of keeping Ukraine top-of-mind for its audience.

What, When, Where

The Last Parade. By Stephanie Satie, directed by Seth Rozin. $15-$35. Through February 19, 2023, at the Proscenium Theatre at the Drake, 302 S Hicks Street, Philadelphia. (215) 568-8079 or


Masks are required in the theater.

The Drake is a wheelchair-accessible venue with gender-neutral restrooms. Accessible seating, including companion and audiovisual seating, is available. Seating requests should be made prior to showtime by calling the box office at (215) 568-8079 or emailing [email protected].

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