Members say: Great acting, Slow, Disappointing, Absorbing, Ambitious

About the show

Two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh succumb to the intoxicating power of lust and obsession in the Sydney Theatre Company’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s first play, 'Platonov.'

... Read more

'The Present' unfolds over the course of a raucous weekend birthday celebration in the 1990s Russian countryside. Old flames ignite in this passionate and bitingly comic play. 'The Present' is adapted by Banchett's husband, writer Andrew Upton. Their multi-year tenure leading the Sydney Theatre Company included such watershed productions as' A Streetcar Named Desire' and 'Uncle Vanya.' This strictly limited engagement marks the Broadway debuts of both Blanchett and Roxburgh.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews


"In Andrew Upton’s capable hands, the dialogue is witty and modern and becomes the vehicle for a thrilling ride between tragedy and comedy...Blanchett is dazzling and Roxburgh is a rake times ten...But, they are truly part of an ensemble and allow the rest of the cast to breathe life into their characters as well...Credit for the seamlessness of this wonderful production must also be given to John Crowley, who directed it at the STC and here." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"There is no denying Cate Blanchett’s magnetism. As the fading trophy wife Anna in Andrew Upton’s ‘The Present,’ Blanchett exudes power that often doesn’t translate onstage from movie stars attempting to tackle live theater…It is with deep commitment and understanding of the art form that Blanchett and co-star Richard Roxburgh lead an ensemble of exceptional actors through a ringer of unrequited love, political corruption, and unraveling friendships." Full Review

Showbiz 411

"Upton’s version is pretty great and very different than the Frayn one...Upton has retained a lot of the Chekhov but updated it...Believe or not, the time passes quickly. Upton has found lots of humor and spread it wisely...Roxborough doesn’t steal the show, he just occupies the center of it, and he’s a revelation...Let’s say Roxburgh leads the magnificent supporting cast. But 'The Present' cast is an ensemble, only that Blanchett cannot keep from being the centerpiece." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"There are fireworks aplenty – both literal and emotional – generated by Upton’s wife and leading lady, the magnificent Cate Blanchett, along with the splendid Sydney Theatre Company, in a version that captures the youthful exuberance and farcical energy of the young Chekhov…As for Cate Blanchett – a stunning actress of great charisma and daring – you simply can’t take your eyes off her…Richard Roxburgh is a splendid Platonov." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Upton's text is thoroughly Chekhovian in the way that heartbreak and farce occupy the same stage; the elegant turns of phrase are his own...John Crowley's direction has a laser-like accuracy for line readings and the bits of business that lay bare each character's agenda, frustrations, and fears, and he is aided by a cast from Sydney Theatre Company who play together superbly; this is currently the most stunning ensemble on a New York stage." Full Review


"It would be possible—and extremely pleasurable—to spend most of the three hours at 'The Present' just watching Cate Blanchett...As mesmerizing as she is, however, it would be a serious mistake to consider 'The Present' a star vehicle...This is dazzling ensemble theater, partnering Blanchett with the sly and thrilling Richard Roxburgh...There isn’t a whiff of gimmickry in director John Crowley’s leisurely, bawdy, poignant production." Full Review


“Sydney Theatre Company’s luminous production...An inspired adaptation…Cate Blanchett stars in the production, giving it not only marquee power but superlative stage artistry as well. Along with co-star Richard Roxburgh, she creates an arresting centerpiece in this company of top-notch actors from Down Under, melded into a deliciously responsive ensemble under the well-honed direction of John Crowley." Full Review

Out Magazine

"Blanchett acts the part of the widow Anna with a full-throttle theatricalism that’s vastly enjoyable...Richard Roxburgh matches her as the cutting Platonov, and with its inventive approach, this turns out to be the snob hit of the year, while also proving wildly accessible, especially when Blanchett and company launch into sexy and silly dancing moves to Tears For Fears. Chekhov must be rolling…with laughter. And Blanchett? What a diva." Full Review


"Happily, the Sydney Theatre Company put a contemporary spin on the 19th Century manuscript, turning Chekhov's flawed tragicomedy into a masterful production...It's led by two stellar performances that must not be missed...In Upton's wildly animated adaptation, directed with great gusto by Crowley, truth spills out in waves...Young Chekhov overstuffed his first play, and it is muddled...But just watch as comedy and tragedy collide, and suddenly boredom never felt so entertaining." Full Review


"What we have is a big star vehicle which happens to be made more starry courtesy of a stellar ensemble. Blanchett and Roxburgh are electrifying...To add to the pleasures of 'The Present,' Upton and Director Crowley have brought out Chekhov's intention to have his plays viewed as farces by playing up the humorous aspects of these characters' behavior...A well-paced three hours to be savored for the fine performances and interesting hints of themes to come." Full Review

Labor Press

"Crowley directed the show and brings all the characters and internal themes together into a clearly enunciated whole...The running time is three hours but passes quickly with adroit acting and direction. The comic timing of the ensemble cast enables 'The Present' to demonstrate the indulgent aristocracy...'The Present' leaves the audience enthralled and satisfied through the dynamic portrayals by Ms. Blanchett, Mr. Roxburgh and the excellence of the supporting cast." Full Review


"A thoroughly excellent Australian ensemble cast…The external circumstances aren’t terribly important to the story, but they’re resonant…If Chekhov wasn’t yet able to marshal his blooming, many-faceted gifts, Upton and director John Crowley shape and sharpen the material into a slowly percolating, soul-tugging, and brightly sparkling tour-de-force. Blanchett’s Anna is as complex a lost soul as Broadway is likely to host this season…Roxburgh is just as compelling." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"Blanchett's virtuosic performance is truth and dare at once. The play itself is a more fitfully successful affair...The chemistry between Anna and combustible enough to blow up the play...When they’re not onstage together, the play has a tendency to slump, a condition that neither Crowley’s sensitive direction nor the excellence of the rest of the cast can ever entirely correct...When this production works best, it feels entirely of the moment and urgently, ripely alive." Full Review

Theater Life

"The double-Oscar-winning star is just one shining jewel in a mostly dazzling show full of farcical humor, heartbreaking pathos, and pointed political observation. Clocking in at three hours, the comedy-drama does have its slow points—the third of four long acts is especially lead-footed. Yet the intense and witty moments more than make up for the snooze-inducing snatches...Though it has its flaws, this 'Present' is a stunning evening of theater." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"The meat of the drama rests with the psychological interplay between the characters and, under the high-energy direction of John Crowley, this cast sink their teeth deep into it...Blanchett's movie-star fame makes her first among equals...Yet Blanchett doesn't overshadow her cast mates...Blazing brightest of all is Roxburgh...'The Present' rambles on longer than I'd have liked but the scenes between the two of them more than made up for the lulls." Full Review


"A sparkling production...The spirit of Chekhovian farce shines bright, and the ensemble work of this Aussie company is just grand...Blanchett turns out to be a consummate comic actress, and Roxburgh her perfect foil, allowing the scene to swing from passion to painfully funny pathos...Crowley handles the directing chores with an impressively light touch, keeping this army of characters circling one another like moths obsessively courting their flames without letting them get burned." Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

"Clever, compelling and rich in character...The brilliance of Crowley’s production lies in its ability to peel back the layers of its many characters to reveal relatable and laughable flaws...Although the first act is long, it flies by. Blanchett and Roxburgh dive into the pain and ridiculousness of their characters, and when they detonate – especially in the second act – the results are wonderfully volatile." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"A tart tragedy, infused with corrosive humor...What's most surprising about John Crowley's expertly calibrated production is how funny it is, while remaining true to themes of disillusionment, class breakdown and unfulfilled love...Weaving together these characters and their hollow lives in a context that connects them both to Chekhov's Russia and to our own world, Upton, Crowley and this accomplished company have elevated a problematic play into something unexpectedly satisfying." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"The play and production are more than worthy...Blanchett makes it instantly clear that she is a creature of the stage. She is in full control, even when she is seemingly sitting silently...Australian film and stage star Roxburgh is perfectly marvelous as the Lothario gone to seed. The others are all fine...Director John Crowley keeps the play moving rapidly through its almost three-hour running time. Your attention is unlikely to lag, not with Blanchett, Roxburgh and this group." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Crowley largely succeed in salvaging two and a half hours of broad, rambunctious comedy. Underlying that achievement is the lively vernacular of Upton’s dialogue, which sounds consistently fresh in the mouths of the all-Australian cast while preserving the original’s mordant spirit...Upton and Crowley err, however, by shifting the story to Russia just after the collapse of communism. For the characters’ struggles are all personal rather than political." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"Crowley’s direction is spirited, with some effective lighting and other effects. The play itself, while sampling Chekhov’s talent, lacks the impact of his later achievements. Still, there is plenty on stage to hold one’s interest, although one can question the concept of modernization...This is a fine opportunity to see Blanchett and Roxburgh at work, admire the efforts of the Sydney Theatre Company and evaluate this unusual interpretation of an early work by the great Russian dramatist." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"The piece still needs editing, but its core is whizz-bang theater and acting is a treat...Except for the surplus of Acts I and III, both of which could be successfully cut, Andrew Upton’s literate interpretation is intriguing and often crackling...In her Broadway debut, Cate Blanchett is a joy to watch, though the dragging first act could make anyone appear aimless...The rest of the company is excellent...Most of director John Crowley’s work is appealingly naturalistic." Full Review


"Upton's 'The Present' is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it brings the team of Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh to New York for their Broadway debuts, and reintroduces theatergoers to a fairly unknown play by Anton Chekhov. On the other hand, the updating, which is intended to make the play more accessible, creates its own problems and much of the long evening is heavy going. However, Blanchett and Roxburgh make their own fireworks and each act ends with high drama." Full Review


"A rather sprawling and sometimes unfocused three-hour piece that teeters between melodrama and farce, 'The Present' ends up as neither first-rate Chekhov, nor I suspect even first-rate Upton. But it contains plenty of touching and hilarious moments, numerous deep-seated truths about human relationships, and some award-worthy acting...John Crowley’s assured direction allows even those actors with brief stage time to make a strong impression." Full Review


"Upton and Crowley have the benefit of a stellar company of actors...Blanchett dominates the stage like a hurricane: All people and events revolve around her inescapable pull...Crowley shrewdly directs the play like the comedy it was meant to be, drawing humor from the occasionally cheesy dialogue and awkward silences...Through a fresh set of circumstances, Upton captures the spirit of Chekhov's dark humor much better than a more traditional production." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Great acting, Intelligent, Slow

See it if you want to see a strong adaptation of a Checkhov play. Also see if you're a fan of Cate Blanchett, she's great

Don't see it if you don't feel up for a long, slow show, or if you don't enjoy caustic humor

Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You like Chekhov and want to see how his weak first play was rescued. The writing, acting, and directing were brilliant.

Don't see it if You are put off by Chekhov. This version is superb, but you still need to appreciated the intellectual drama of the playwright.

Ambitious, Edgy, Indulgent, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if You like Kate Blanchett. She does a really good job in this show. Roxburgh, not so much.

Don't see it if Show is slow at times, confusing at times. I was disappointed , thought it would be directed better.

Ambitious, Great acting, Confusing

See it if you are eager to see Cate Blanchett on stage/you have a big old boner for Chekhov

Don't see it if sitting for three+ hours isn't your cup of tea/you need a straightforward plot

Dizzying, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if you like Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh, you want to see a modern take on Chekhov.

Don't see it if you would be confused by a Russian story with Australian accents, you need a straightforward plot, you have to be home by bedtime.

Funny, Dizzying

See it if a modern interpretation of a Chekhov play (starring Cate Blanchett!!!) you haven't seen before sounds interesting.

Don't see it if you're not into Chekhov. There's still a whole lotta talking about nothing happening here, guys.

Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if Cate Blanchett is incredible. The play itself is great.

Don't see it if You're not particularly fond of Chekhov

Banal, Disappointing, Cliched, Dated

See it if you want to see Cate Blanchett for the star factor alone

Don't see it if you can't handle Australian accents doing Chekhov, really banal and disappointing acting

Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Insipid, Slow

See it if You wanna see Cate Blanchett in a very interesting role. Also if you like Chekhov and his complicated plots and stories

Don't see it if You have something better to see, which is half of what's on Broadway (or Off-Broadway). Nothing much to miss here

Ambitious, Clever, Great acting

See it if I was surprised by this one- I laughed, reflected & noted the interesting themes/writing. Cate is a force. the 2nd act was odd tho.

Don't see it if It's quite long - confusing at times. The second act didn't flow for me.

Indulgent, Banal, Insipid

See it if Cate Blanchett.

Don't see it if Languished. Overwrought.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Great writing

See it if you enjoy the meandering slow burn of Chekhov sprinkled with Australian humour and acting talents.

Don't see it if you can't abide slow-starting plays and lots of rambling dialogue.

Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Insipid, Slow

See it if you want to see Cate Blanchett live on stage.

Don't see it if you want to see a well written rewrite of a Chekov play. Wait for a revival of "Wild Honey"

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if you enjoy Chekhov and at minimum don't mind having to analyse and reflect on the show to fully understand the play, you like intense drama.

Don't see it if you need the shows to be constantly moving or evenly paced. The 1st act is slow with little plot development, and the other acts are uneven.

Funny, Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you like Cate Blanchett, curious about an early rarely done Chekhov, enjoy good ensemble work & Chekhov in a modern setting

Don't see it if updated Chekhov aggravates you, scattered work by a novice before he becames accomplished does not impress you, Blanchett not a big draw

Exquisite, Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Entertaining

See it if you love great theatre. Cate Blanchett is a dream. The entire cast is a gift. Great acting and an engaging adaptation.

Don't see it if you dislike Chekhov, family dramas, long character driven plays.

Indulgent, Banal, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you absolutely must see Cate Blanchette on stage. Other than that, it's missable.

Don't see it if you are smart! This adaptation is slow and tedious.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting

See it if you thought you didn't like Chekhov, but just haven't seen a quality adaptation by stellar troupe helmed by Blanchett & Roxburgh. Great!

Don't see it if you get impatient with a slow build.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Confusing

See it if you want to see a very great actress, Cate Blanchett and a good actor Richard Roxburgh.

Don't see it if If you want a play where everything is believable.

Great acting, Intelligent, Slow

See it if You like Russian drama. You like complicated plots.

Don't see it if You don't like large complicated casts. There are a lot random characters with random Russian names.

Great acting, Banal, Confusing, Overrated, Slow

See it if You are a Cate Blanchett fan. You like Chekov.

Don't see it if Way way too long. it was very talky.Boring. Even Cate's character say "I am bored. I am very bored". You want to see you can relate to.

Also Cate Blanchett was the best part of this show. when she was the center... Read more Read less

Great acting, Quirky, Unusual, Surprising, Sexy

See it if you like seeing something that challenges your mind a bit, an little known production from a classic author in an updated unusual manner.

Don't see it if you object to talky, somewhat irrelevant dialogue although presented in an unconventional manner

Also That woman sure knows how to throw a party. ... Read more Read less

Great writing, Disappointing, Dated, Over directed, Terrific adaptation

See it if you love Chekhov.Acting is all over the top, so that means that the director wanted all the hysteria and no subtlety. Set & costumes are ok.

Don't see it if you want to see Chekov done with restraint. Second act fog scene is ridiculous. Too much hysteria throughout the show.

Great acting, Intense, Slow, Sexy, Explosive

See it if you enjoy complicated, ensemble dramas, with intertwined relationships. Blanchett & Roxburgh both give excellent performances.

Don't see it if you can't get into complicated stories. The play started slow, but sped up toward the end of the first act & culminated in a dramatic end.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you want to see a group of expert actors in a well-constructed play of historical theatrical significance.

Don't see it if You don't like nearly 3 hour long talky plays that may not have a message that will resonate with you or transport you.

Cast & Creatives (20)