In his sacred text of directing, The Empty Space, Peter Brook talked about the Deadly Theatre, one that looks right, smells right, feels right, but is lacking in the passion and complexity that drives a truly “holy” theatre experience. It’s the kind of theatre that makes you secretly wonder if you actually like theatre because it is so hard to pinpoint what is wrong. With all that was technically right about this production, it simply smacked, to me, of Deadly Theatre: The characters are playing their types, not their opposites, their happy and hopeful selves. Brook said that “a principle on which all of Shakespeare and all of Chekhov is built” is “shifting oneself totally from one character to another.” It is continual shifting that keeps the three sisters convinced that they are going to Moscow, and it ought to be this shifting that drives Sonya’s final impassioned speech to Vanya about the greater life ahead in heaven; but with these characters having wallowed so thoroughly in their hopelessness for so long, the plea may hit an intellectual note, but hardly an emotional chord. If the characters can never muster the hope to root for themselves, how can we possibly find it inside of our hearts root for them?