The Chekhov Dreams: Theatre Review by Sarah Moss

The invigorating portrait of love, loss and newfound life and love is currently playing at the Beckett Theatre.

John McKinney’s dark, romantic comedy The Chekhov Dreams will fulfill all those theatregoers who enjoy Chekhov or yearn for a classic Greek Tragedy. All that may be required is a certain knowledge of literature in order to fully partake in the irony and robust humor of this play. “It is life itself onstage,” just like Koni wrote to Chekhov of his play The Seagull, “with all its tragic alliances, eloquent thoughtlessness and silent sufferings — the sort of everyday life that is accessible to everyone and understood in its cruel internal irony by almost no one.”  McKinney brilliantly created a modern twist on Chekov’s The Seagull and Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, with a plethora of references to other well-known literature.

One performance that stands out is the portrayal of Eddie by Christian Ryan, a politically incorrect, every vice known kind of guy.  Yet, it was exactly this abundance of flaws and raw human emotion that made the audience roar with laughter, allowing for a needed break from the sometimes too dark undertones of suicide and death that are a steady dose throughout the play. Dana Watkins as Jeremy was approachable, endearing and familiar; a life we all could relate to.  Charlotte Stoiber as Chrissy was sweet, even a bit flighty and annoying at times, in sharp contrast to the fiery performance by Elizabeth Ingraham as Kate. It was difficult to not like Kate, but more difficult to like her.  The rollercoaster of emotions she gave to Jeremy was at times evil. Kate is ever-consuming of poor Jeremy’s sleeping hours and eventually haunting him in his waking hours, even though she plunged to her death when her car sped off a bridge. Jeremy’s life is still very much centered on Kate until his brother convinces him to venture out and find life again.  Acting class seems like the perfect place to hide from reality, it is here in acting class where he is assigned to partner with the bubbly and quite a bit younger scene partner, Chrissy.

Leslie Kincaid Burby masterfully takes us head-on into the suffering of Jeremy, scene by scene up to clenching ending where Jeremy narrowly escapes death with an unsuccessful suicide and a second chance at love and life. The climactic confrontation between Jeremy and Kate was a little forced and perhaps would be more impactful with less drama overload.

Clearly, it is the acting that shines and allowing for more than enough time to develop their own unique imprint onto the audience’s heart. The design team Scott Aronow (scenic design), Diana Duecker (lighting), John McKinney (sound) and Christina Giannini’s costume design work cohesively to add intrigue to the backdrop and with the characters of the play to successfully reinvent Chekhov’s usually depressing ending and hopelessness; instead we are left feeling optimistic about love and a connectivity in life and hope for living another day. This was a compelling, well-produced and acted play, and deserving of a longer run.

Visit  It is running through February 17th.