Friday, April 9, 2010

New Review Posted: Chekhov Kegstand

Centerstage put up a new review, Chekhov Kegstand at Gorilla Tango. It works better than an adaptation of Uncle Vanya set in a dorm room should--especially since it's not really an adaptation of the plot so much as some of the themes and ideas. The combination of comedy and drama doesn't quite work, and the plotting is pretty confused, but there's potential there. Here's the text:

While the differences are many, there are some profound similarities between the characters in Anton Chekhov's plays and college students: fear of the future, an inability to act, and a love for drinking vodka. Lots and lots of vodka. This is the idea for Bryan Cohen's flawed but promising new play, "Chekhov Kegstand," and for all the things that don't work, it's still better than a play called "Chekhov Kegstand" has any right to be.

The play takes place in the dorm room shared by Aaron (Joe Schlotter) and Greg (Stuart Berberich), best friends and roommates at the start of their senior year at an unidentified college. (The soundtrack appears to place the action in the late 1990s.) Aaron is trying to decide whether to pursue physics or music while Greg struggles with his lines in the soon-to-open production of "Uncle Vanya." There are of course many other complications, involving Lanie (Kimberly Franck), Greg's former girlfriend, currently dating Aaron; Greg's attempts to date stage manager Kelly (Colleen Sketch); and the trials of Jenny (Allison Schaffer), a timid girl taking Greg's dating advice.

The show's representation of college isn't documentary realism, but it's great fun to watch, and gets the crazed emotional essence of those four years. The performances are generally engaging and fun to watch, and there is some excellent verbal and physical comedy. The problem is the plot. It is riddled with implausibility for most of the show (Local critics attending a college production? Student actors being replaced during tech? Really?) and then abruptly resolves the various plot lines, capped with a strange shrug of an ending.

But there's something real and likable here. It's not quite successful yet, but there's enough talent in the writing onstage to make the next show from Cohen and his collaborators worth a look.

1 comment:

Zev Valancy said...

I accidentally deleted a comment asking me to post the New City review (sorry, Anonymous person!) but here it is:

For what its worth, I can see his opinion that it doesn't ring true to the college experience (I more believed the energy than the events), though he may be projecting a little much from his own experience. And certainly the show isn't very Chekhovian.

But I don't see the show as misogynistic--I think we're supposed to see the ugly things the characters say as ugly. I don't think the men come off any better than the women.