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In sad circumstances, 'Uncle Vanya' shines

Delayed by the death of a key player, play is a Co-op benchmark.

May 02, 2003|David C. Nichols | Special to The Times

A bittersweet patina of genuine sorrow overlays "Uncle Vanya" at the Crossley Terrace Theatre in Hollywood. Originally slated to open on April 11, the Actors Co-op mounting of Anton Chekhov's 1899 masterpiece of emotional indecision was postponed when founding member David Schall, who played Serebriakov, suffered a fatal coronary shortly before curtain time.

Under such circumstances, carrying on becomes noteworthy. Yet, this translucent staging doesn't just prevail, it transcends to become a mature, moving company benchmark.

Director Simon Levy masterfully locates the fusion of pathos and humor in Paul Schmidt's prosaic translation. Tim Farmer's set, Kathi O'Donohue's lighting, Geoff Green's sound, Shon LeBlanc's costumes, Lori Berg's props and Diane Martinous' hairstyles serve Levy's vision with beautiful unity.

As for the acting, it is beyond praise. Ted Rooney's title character is definitive. The unattainable Yelena of Nan McNamara mirrors his virtuosity, from her delicious, molasses-paced entrance to devastating farewell.

Marianne Savell illuminates Vanya's niece Sonia from deep within, hilarious and heartbreaking in her inchoate longing for Cameron Dye's superbly layered Astrov.

Alexandra More's Mrs. Voinitsky, Jim Custer's Telegin, Janet Raycraft's Marina and Tyler Torti's Yefim offer stalwart support.

Given the context, Don Robb's Serebriakov merits respect though, understandably, his proficiency has yet to match the profundity of his inspired colleagues. No matter -- there can be no more fitting tribute to Schall than this indelible laughing-through-the-tears revival, the Co-op's finest production to date.


`Uncle Vanya'

Where: Actors Co-op, Crossley Terrace Theatre, 1760 N. Gower St., Hollywood

When: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m.

Ends: June 8

Price: $15-$20

Info: (323) 462-8460

Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

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