Review: Uncle Vanya at the Actor’s Workshop

Uncle Vanya

Darryl DeHart as Astrov and Jenny Cox as Yelena.

Darryl DeHart as Astrov and Jenny Cox as Yelena.

Photo courtesy of Actors Workshop

Showtimes: Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm. Through May 6; $20; Three Penny Theatre, 1721 25th Street; (916) 501-6104;
Rated 3.0

There were nine actors in the cast of the Actor’s Workshop production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya on opening night—and five people in the audience. Yet the show must go on, and the cast members, performing a new contemporary translation by Annie Baker, behaved as if they had a full house.

Uncle Vanya is not a show with a lot of laughs. It is filled with anger, angst and ennui, has one bright moment, and ends sadly. Yet, when performed well it is powerful, and several actors in this production do right by the play.

Sean Williams is Vanya, a man depressed that he is now old (47!) and has accomplished nothing. He is the caretaker of his late sister’s estate. He has no fame, no fortune, and no love in his life. Williams grew in the performance throughout the evening and was a powerful Vanya by the second act.

Ed Claudio (director, producer and set designer) is Serebryakov, Vanya’s grumpy brother-in-law, now married to a trophy wife Yelena (Jenny Cox), and a disruptive element in the house. Claudio can always be counted on for top notch performances, and this is no exception.

Outstanding are Darryl DeHart as the doctor, Astrov, who falls in love with Yelena, and Cattaryna Tekin as Sophia, the young daughter of Serebryakov, suffering unrequited love for Astrov.

As in many Russian plays, most characters have more than one name and it takes a bit to get them sorted out. Scenes are nicely set by projected backdrops on the back wall.

There is no “happily ever after” for these people; merely “life goes on, whether you want it to or not.”