Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) 33 Swoons

Chekhov's Heart
by Jim Murchison 

Well spring is here, so it's only appropriate that you get out your Chekhov shorts. The big problem with a lot of Chekhov productions is that they don’t understand his intense sense of humour. To my mind everyone that wants to do The Seagull or Uncle Vanya should be required to read his short stories or one act plays first.

Fortunately for students at Algonquin, director Mary Ellis has used three hilariously insightful pieces that allow them to play and learn the fine art of Chekhov. In the right hands, Chekhov is more than just funny, he’s hilarious: and he’s in good hands here.

Many of the students will not get the opportunity to play in Chekhov comedy any time soon, if ever.

Phil Hughes, is particularly good in a variety of roles and although I enjoyed him as a nervous young suitor and as a neighbour collecting a debt from a decidedly un-merry widow, it was as the exasperated bank employee that I think he was at his best.

Jonah Lerner has a good turn as the perfunctorily polite neighbour of his daughter’s suitor in The Proposal. His daughter played by Erin Macdonald runs the full gamut of emotions from cordial to despair to indignation and quite skilfully turns them on and off like a hot and cold water tap. She turns up again as a servant in The Bear and a disgruntled customer in The Jubilee.

Caitlin O’Brien plays a dutiful mourning widow in The Bear and is equally as good as the vacuous prattling wife of the Bank Chairman in The Jubilee.

Judith DeBoer’s quite lovely set is suitably adorned with paintings of hunting dogs and portraits and of course there are settees, divans and chairs to collapse and faint onto. I lost count at about thirteen but I am quite confident that the quota of thirty-three swoons was met.

Not every transition went as smoothly as it could have and there were some subtleties in the transitions that were missed or rough, but the flavour and tone were achieved very well. Many of the students will not get the opportunity to play in Chekhov comedy any time soon, if ever. Although Chekhov is most known for his dramas which may be what his soul was about, I think his heart was in his comedies. It is great to have a chance to see them again. 

runtime: approximately 2 hours with one intermission
33 Swoons runs until March 24th
For reservations, call 613-727-4723 Ext. 5784

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Please read our guidelines for posting comments.