Why You Must See The Final Performance of ‘Uncle Vanya’ at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company at 2 PM

“Time is of the essence” is a term in British and United States contract law. It serves as a jumping off point in this short, sweet review of Uncle Vanya that wraps up its three week run today at 2 PM at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Theatre in Baltimore.

Short because of time – there is less than 11 hours to see this fine production, translated from the Russian by Nathan Thomas (who plays the retired professor in this show) and directed by Ian Gallanar, founder of CSC and recipient of numerous awards in Maryland. Sweet as this production begins with live music by The Arden Bards singing Russian songs, “Back in the USSR” and “To Russia With Love,” among others, and ends with the entire cast mingling among the audience.

Kevin J. Costa and Lizzi Albert as Vanya and Sophia. Photo by Teresa Castracane.
Kevin J. Costa  (Vanya) and Lizzi Albert (Sophia). Photo by Teresa Castracane.

Here’s my take on why you should rush to see Uncle Vanya before it closes today. At press time tickets were still available.

Baltimore has become a mecca for excellent theatrical productions, all over “Charm City,” especially downtown. Located in the historic Mercantile Trust & Deposit Company building on Calvert Street near the Inner Harbor, the Bard would be pleased at this replica of his famous Globe Theatre. With its thrust stage and close-up seating, the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company turns out to be a perfect setting for Uncle Vanya’s dacha, designed by Chester Stacy. Kudos also to Lighting Designer Kaitie McCreary and Costume Designer Heather C. Jackson.

There’s a translation of the original Russian words and names in this production of Uncle Vanya, so we now have the benefit of Chekhov’s use of language a la Americana. The diminutive of Vanya is “Ivan,” the Russian equivalent of “John.” So the family calls this 47-year-old hero, “Uncle Johnny.”

As Uncle Johnny, Kevin J. Costa pulls off an extraordinary performance of a foolish man in a mid-life crisis who woes the beautiful wife, played by Kathryn Elizabeth Kelley, of a gout-ridden professor (Nathan Thomas).

SAG-AFTRA actor Ron Heneghan plays the dashing alcoholic doctor who is adored by just about everyone in the cast and the audience.

You leave the theater with a better understanding of Chekhov, Russia during the 1890s, and the disarray of three consuming unconsummated love affairs.

Elizabeth Kelly and Ron Heneghan as Kathryn and Dr. Astrov. Photo by Teresa Castracane.
Kathryn Elizabeth Kelly (Helen) and Ron Heneghan (Dr. Astrov). Photo by Teresa Castracane.

Running Time: Two hours with one 15-minute intermission.

Uncle Vanya by Anton closes today, Sunday, March 1st at 2 PM, at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company Theatre – 7 South Calvert Street, in Baltimore, MD. For tickets call (410) 244-8570, or purchase them online.

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