Fans of Chekhov rejoice. Pallas Theatre Collective has come to lift your spirits and make you laugh. Long have people tried to convince me that Chekhov is funny. After falling asleep in more than one version of a three hour Cherry Orchard I refused to believe them; I’m finally starting to understand. Under the helm of director Ty Hallmark the jokes come to life, even if they are a bit antiquated for the modern pallet. Hallmark pieces together a show of short comic scenes about love that progress wittily into marriage.
Though some of the language and jokes felt outdated, Hallmark made them accessible by adding elements of slapstick, direct audience address, and smart editing. Even so, the accessibility would have been lost without a cast consisting of seasoned and talented actors who were more than capable at wielding the difficult language. K. Clare Johnson’s stern mother of the bride contrasted perfectly with Allison S. Galen’s bubbly persona, with Steve Beall’s inebriated father weaving through the two. The product was an awkward and funny wedding that anyone with a crazy family could relate to.
The main struggle this show had was with the space, which didn’t quite fit the production. Actor Michael Boynton’s loud voice and sweeping gestures would have fit perfectly in a large proscenium, but in a small black box left the audience feeling a bit shouted at. Hallmark does her level best to stage the show for seating on all sides, but during the scenes with full cast present the stage felt over crowded and confusing. This show could easily go from good to great if staged in a more fitting space. Ah, the woes of Fringe. Still, I would recommend this show to fans of Chekhov and anyone else who appreciates classical humor. Greatly looking forward to more productions by Pallas Theatre Collective and Ty Hallmark.
Running Time: 75 minutes.
The Tragical Mirth of Marriage & Love: Short Scenes by Anton Chekhov runs through July 27th, 2013 at Fort Fringe – The Shop, 607 New York Ave, NW Washington, DC. For performance times and to purchase tickets, visit the show’s Capital Fringe page.
2013 Capital Fringe Show Preview: ‘The Tragical Mirth of Marriage & Love: Short Scenes by Anton Chekhov’