New Saloon’s irreverent mashup of English-language translations of "Uncle Vanya" – from the dusty 1916 edition to Google Translate’s whack results – is a kaleidoscopic amplification of Chekhov's depressing comedy. More…
Each character is interpreted by multiple actors and through multiple translations, in an athletic attempt to say one true thing. “I’ve been made a complete fool,” Vanya says, “foolishly betrayed,” Vanya agrees, “stupidly cheated,” Vanya clarifies. Part of the 2019 Under the Radar Festival.
“Not only does the wild production reveal an acutely clever director...but the performers demonstrate solid acting chops and musicality...The music...is in fine contrast to the dialogue and one of the high points of ‘Minor Character’...Celebrates Chekhov’s wit and humor taking it to an extraordinary level as profound themes glide under the surface of our laughter. You can ride the waves of fun including the variant English translations of character dialogue with the marvelous cast.” Full Review
“Any production of ‘Uncle Vanya’ inevitably rises and falls on the success of its translation...New Saloon has incorporated six...The result is a giddy, vodka-spiked concoction that Chekhov fans will lap up. The translations aren’t woven together tapestry-style; rather, they’re piled on top of each other...If you aren’t familiar with ‘Vanya’, it’ll take you a scene or two to get up to speed. And even if you are familiar, it might take you a few minutes to figure out who’s who.” Full Review
"The script jumps from translation to translation...There are also a few musical moments, including a fine ensemble chorale...Aside from the occasional starkly contemporary phrasing, there's no clear difference between the translations made apparent...The concept may wear thin after a while, but, as performed by a very enthused company, it's the kind of enjoyable off-beat fun that downtown festivals thrive on." Full Review
"A surprisingly solid 'Vanya'...Director Morgan Green and the ensemble...find a slightly manic rhythm that brings out the wry comedy...The doubling and the retreading of lines does feel very Chekhovian, I’m not sure it actually illuminates the play in a meaningful way...As a jigsaw puzzle of Chekhov, it’s charming, witty, and even oddly moving. But it feels like 'Minor Character' wants to be more than creditable Chekhov, and it never quite rose to that level for me." Full Review
"The oddness and the excess of this mash-up can be fun, and occasionally funny...If you don’t already know Chekhov well, the horseplay might serve as distraction, lessening your incentive to focus on the drama...'Minor Character' is not as sharply funny as Chekhov parodies like Durang’s, nor as moving as some recent more straightforward productions of 'Uncle Vanya.' But the presence of such an ebullient cast seems to give the play a subtext that overtakes the text." Full Review
“It’s incredibly interesting. But also...aggravating...Main characters are played by several actors...With only a stole or a pair of gloves to hint at whom they’re playing, you can easily lose track. You don’t lose track of Greenspan though. Greenspan unearths laughs I’ve never heard Serebryakov get...But in keeping with the New Saloon aesthetic — I’d boil it down to twee with brains — more effort goes into feeding the stunt than nurturing the story. That’s a shame." Full Review
"'Minor Character' is a state-of-the-art collection of avant-garde theatrical tropes, if not innovations...After a promising beginning, featuring a chorus line of Chekovian kvetchers, this approach yields a remarkably repetitive series of effects that neither honor the original nor do they yield any new insights or comedy...Morgan Green's direction keeps a fairly tight lid on these proceedings, keeping them from spinning into chaos." Full Review
“New Saloon uses not one English translation but six, creating a mash-up effect that results in characters frequently repeating a line in various renderings...On top of the textual layers is a cast whose parts are continually changing...For those who go into this show knowing ‘Uncle Vanya’, keeping up is a challenge. For those who don't, it's an exercise in futility...The theatrical experiment of ‘Minor Character’ tickles the intellect, but it leaves the soul unmoved.” Full Review
for a previous production “The creativity of the presentation is evident in every line, yet there is room to understand the ebb and flow of the play and to celebrate the talent presenting it....Confounding as it might seem that the evening will be spent hearing multiple translations of Chekov’s...play, it takes all of 30 seconds from the beginning to understand how refreshing, funny, engaging and simply entertaining the performance will be...Broadway-caliber actors led by a Broadway-caliber director.” Full Review
See it if you love "Uncle Vanya" but don't take it so seriously that you can't enjoy a creative fracturing of the text.
Don't see it if the text of "Uncle Vanya" is too precious for you to bear seeing it dismantled & reconstructed.
See it if Wildly ambitious yet uniquely poignant medley? mashup? melee? of Uncle Vanya culled from various translations Chekhov meets Jackson Pollack!
Don't see it if Knowledge of source drama a MUST Except for one actor (David Greenspan!) others play all other parts at various times = intelligent chaos
See it if you enjoy a solid ensemble with actors moving in and out of multiple characters. Lots of fun moments.
Don't see it if the concept didn't feel fully fleshed out...though it was a lot of fun to watch.
See it if ur familiar w/Uncle Vanya & want to see an abridged version by an innovative acting co. having fun with a mixture of English translations.
Don't see it if u aren't familiar w/the play (otherwise you will be very confused); u expect more variety of translations; u want a traditional Chekhov.
See it if you love Chekhov, you like meta-theatricality or intellectually-fueled performances, or you'd like to see Chekhov but haven't
Don't see it if you want a traditional play, or something that isn't at times sort of hipster millenial in its approach
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