August 17, 2011
I’ve actually seen three shows this past week. One on Sunday I don’t know if I’ll have much to say about, but on Thursday I saw Who’s Your Bagdaddy or How I Started the Iraq War, which after winner the award for Best Show at the DC Fringe Festival extended its run in Woolly Mammoth’s rehearsal hall through to last weekend, and last night I saw a Australian production of Uncle Vanya directed by a Hungarian, which visited the Kennedy Center.[…]
Uncle Vanya, meanwhile, at a little over a century in age can still be performed to great effect, I am starting to conclude that the problem with classic plays is that they get dated; like film, it’s so immediate a medium. When Anton Chekov wrote it, it was still considered okay in high culture to portray the woes of the well off as the worst thing in the world and ignore how things were truly dire for those who were not the lucky few. In 2011, that’s not so true anymore, especially not when things are turning dire again for those outside the elite class, and the majority of the world is not happy about it, especially not when they know in a way the ancient peasants didn’t that things could be done better. So now Uncle Vanya only works as a comedy, and it’s not written to be a pure one. Still, the cast was talented, as well as famous(Cate Blachett the highest profile name, but Hugo Weaving was present as well, as were a number of actors who have appeared in both Australian movies and Hollywood movies shot in Australia; including Farscape and Star Wars bit players), and in the end their hard work combined with Chekov’s general ability to portray humanity earned a standing ovation. Uncle Vanya remains in the Kennedy Center until the 27th, though I imagine it’s sold out by now.