|Juliet Rylance, Ethan Hawke, Joely Richardson|
Photo: Josh Lehrer
Ivanov (Ethan Hawke), who has either depression or manic-depression, has gotten himself into a corner, with tremendous debts, a dying wife, and a heart and a brain that switch from being empty to being filled with hurricanes of guilt and self-hatred. Borkin (the unnecessarily noisy Glenn Fitzgerald), the manager of Ivanov's estate, has many plans to save it. However, Ivanov, with the "we-don't-do-those-sorts-of-things" principles that often ruin the lives of Chekhov's landowners, vetoes them all. (If this were the Cherry Orchard, Borkin would end up owning Ivanov's land.) Ivanov is offered a chance of rescue by Sasha (Juliet Rylance), the much-younger daughter of an old friend and a prototypical woman-who-loves-too-much.
The biggest problem with this production is Ethan Hawke, who tears his hair and his vocal cords in an unconvincing, frequently annoying performance that in no way acknowledges that he's supposed to be in Russia in the 1880s. Its biggest asset is the amazing Juliet Rylance, who gives an honest, textured, subtle, and moving performance that stands out amid the general messiness like a classic fountain pen in a pile of discount multicolored metallic gels. The best scenes are those between her and Austin Pendleton, who is wonderful as her father. When the two of them are together, there are hints of how interesting a play Ivanov could actually be.
(first row center; CSC subscription)