Friday, October 19, 2018

‘Uncle Vanya’ at Hudson Theatre Works


Hudson Theatre Works


Chekhov's Masterpiece

Uncle Vanya

Scenes from a Jersey Life in Four Acts

adapted by

Michael Puzzo

October 11 thru October 28

Thursday thru Saturday @8pm

Sunday @7pm


80 Hauxhurst Street

Weehawken, NJ 07086

Tickets are $25.00

It's the winter of 2016, and the memory of Hurricane Sandy still weighs heavily on the devastated community surrounding a rundown B&B in Mantoloking. There, a lonely man barely staggers through life with the help of his niece, the daughter of his dead sister. They find their mundane lives occasionally interrupted by visits from the man's only friend, an alcoholic doctor. Then the man's elderly brother-in-law, a pretentious professor, visits with his beautiful, young second wife in tow. And these sad, quiet, painfully pedestrian lives erupt into a tumult of repressed feelings and pain.

Yes, it's Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya," but in this new production by

Hudson Theatre Works,

playwrightMichael Puzzo has updated the story and moved it to the Shore, adding the subtitle "Scenes From a Jersey Life in Four Acts." And surprisingly, it works remarkably well.  Scholars

always focus on Chekhov's gloomier side, but "Uncle Vanya" was meant to be a comedy, and this excellent cast and director Frank Licato (who is also Hudson Theatre Works' artistic director) keep the laughs coming throughout the evening. Kevin Cristaldi, as Vanya, strikes the perfect balance between venomous bitterness and crippling self-pity, delivering zingers left and right. When noting that his pompous brother-in-law considers himself a documentarian (even though he has only finished one modestly successful film), Vanya explains to his niece that "documentaries are the broccoli of the film world, and 'hit documentary' is an oxymoron.

The entire cast provides riveting performances, from Beatriz Esteban-Messina as Nanita, the B&B's much put-upon housekeeper, to the slow-witted handyman Pocky (Gregory Erbach) who serenades the house with Beatles tunes, to the twisted members of the family: Vanya, his disapproving mother (Joanne Hoersch), his niece Sonia (Bess Miller), his self-obsessed brother-in-law Alexander (Michael Folie), Alexander's second wife Helena (Meredyth Kenney) and Vanya's only friend, Dr. Mike (Vincent Sagona.)

Jim Testa - New Jersey Stage

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