Ben Brantley's Been around. So It's Telling That The

By O'Quinn, Jim | American Theatre, January 2013 | Go to article overview

Ben Brantley's Been around. So It's Telling That The


O'Quinn, Jim, American Theatre


New York Times chief drama critic devoted a rhapsodically appreciative Dec. 2 Arts & Leisure column to the world theatre's current mania for Anton Chekhov. "I can't remember a year in the theatre as crowded with productions of Chekhov's chronicles of lonely lives as 2012 has been," Brandey announced, going on to inventory and comment on the year's cascade of Vanyas and Seagulls--some "earnest, straightforward (and often star-studded)," others "desperately updated"--as well as its rarities (Classic Stage Company of New York City's Ivanov, with Ethan Hawke) and extravagances (the Swiss company Cotnpagnia Finzi Pasca's circus-style tour de force Donka: A Letter to Chekhov at the Brooklyn Academy of Music). Brantley went on to note the advent of extra-theatrical Chekhov chat in New York, such as the New Museum's recent panel "My Chekhov, Not Yours," and Target Margin Theater's "After Anton" series, and to anticipate some "antic riffs" on the Russian master's oeuvre, due early in 2013.

It's the last of these items that fascinates our own reporter, Ben Gassman ("Knocking Chekhov for a Loop," page 82). On the heels of Annie Baker's snug, we're-all-in-this-together revamping of Uncle Vanya at Soho Rep this past summer, Gassman previews an intriguing pair of Chekhovian meditations--he calls them "stylized theatro-philosophical excursions"--due this month at the COIL festival in New York City, both helmed by women. "Why all the Chekhovs at this cultural moment? Maybe there's something in the air," Gassman speculates. …

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