Gerry Rose & Polina Shafran in The Boor.
Photo courtesy of The Chamber Theatre.
Chek-Mate: Two Comedic Vaudevilles
Written by Anton Chekov
Translation of The Boor by Julius West
Adaptation by Martin French and Polina Shafran
Translation of The Proposal by Polina Shafran
Directed by Martin French
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2016 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
A new year brings a new theater company to Louisville. The Chamber Theatre’s mission is simple: produce small-scale theater while discovering early modern dramatists. In a community bombarded with companies driven to produce musicals and crowd pleasing, yet repetitive productions of standard comedies, the arrival of The Chamber Theatre is truly appreciated and very much welcome.
Co-Artistic directors Polina Shafran and Martin French adapted and translated two comedy vaudevilles by Anton Chekov, The Boor and The Proposal. As the title of the evening, Chek-Mate, implies these short plays compliment and balance each other with themes of class, relationships, and gender roles. French’s direction relies on a wide spectrum of contemporary comedic style in staging these adaptations. Where The Boor is a slow burn reminiscent of Wes Anderson, heavily dependant on pauses and rises to conflict, The Proposal takes on a slapstick flavor with spit takes and physical humor.
For two diverse comedies, casting is key for success. Gerry Rose shows amazing range in his transformative roles as the boorish Grigory and the nervous Ivan in The Proposal. As Grigory, he brings out a brutishness fueled by anger, which pays off in the twist of the plays ending. Rose contrasts Grigory’s arrogance with Ivan’s nervous physicality, allowing for some great comedic moments with top hats and cane. Polina Shafran is a noble match for Rose. As Elena in The Boor, Shafran’s woman in mourning is one of upper class privilege and sexual oppression. As evident in the play’s suggestive pistol bit, Shafran and Rose build a slow tension that explodes at the plays conclusion. As Natalya in The Proposal, Shafran brings to life a young maiden who is flighty in her emotional temperament as a simple argument erupts into a living room brawl. Tom Pettey brings excellent support in both pieces. As Luka in The Boor, Pettey is a servant who is armed with a cleverly judgmental quip, while Stepan in The Proposal is delightfully condescending.
This production is truly a labor of love. With well-versed translations and adaptations along with a quality cast, Chek-Mate proves The Chamber Theatre will no doubt be a staple in the community in no time.
Chek-Mate: Two Comic Vaudevilles
January 15-23, 2016
The Chamber Theatre
At Vault 1031
1031 South Sixth Street
Louisville, KY 40203
Tickets: (502) 724-6968
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for Leo Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!