Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan
Anton Chekhov is one of my favorite playwrights. Thus, I was more than excited to see Ivanov, brought to us by the Cherry Orchard Festival. Yet, my enthusiasm was short- lived because splitting my focus between the translations and the actions on stage was too difficult for me and I was lost much of the time.
The story begins with the audience being told about Ivanov’s money troubles, his sick wife Anna Petrovna, and his deep depression. We are told as an audience that his wife is a Jewish woman who came from a wealthy family, but once she converted to Russian Orthodoxism, she was disowned by her family. Now she is dying of Tuberculosis unbeknownst to her, and Ivanov must take care of her, his debt, and his uncle, the Count, who lives with them. Doctor Lvov, who takes care of Anna is also berating Ivanov for being cruel and short tempered with Anna who he tells Ivanov, is dying of Tuberculosis and must go to Crimea to get better, but he is both unwilling and unable to pay for her treatment. Needing an escape from his troubles, he flees to his friend Lebedev’s house to get some space.
That is not to say that the production is without merit. The cast is clearly talented. It’s a shame that the translations were so quick, that one could not capture what was happening on stage and understand the dialogue at the same time. Unfortunately, I felt like an outsider left in the dark for most of the evening. With better translation techniques, this could have have been a gripping piece of theater. Sadly, we are unable to sustain the energy it takes to divert our attention back and forth from the stage to translations.
Ivanov plays now through July, 17, 2018 at City Center 131 West 55th St. https://www.nycitycenter.org/pdps/ivanov/