Russian writer Anton Chekhov is not everyone's samovar for tea. He is an acuired taste, even though he is considered to be among the greatest writers of short stories in history. Early on, he supported his family writing short, humorous vignettes about contemporary Russian life in the mid to late 1800's. Hartford Stage has chosen two of these sketches and woven them together in a unique theatrical offering, where sound and visual effects figure prominently.
In the world premiere of "Man in a Case," we encounter a pair of Chekhov's offerings that are staged in an unusual manner, by Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar from the internationally acclaimed Big Dance Theater and featuring famed Russian ballet dancer, choreographer and actor Mikhail Baryshnikov. The production will play until Sunday, March 24.
Both "Man in a Case" and "About Love" deal with men and women who find each other but are doomed to despair. Fear is the third corner of their triangle and it overwhelms their sentiments, crushing them like rose petals beneath their feet.
Mikhail Baryshnikov is the loner and introvert Belikov, a teacher of Greek, who falls for the most unlikely and unsuitable of women, his polar opposite, a flamboyant and lively creature. She not only rejects him, she does it in a most public and humiliating way, devastating his fragile ego and spirit so he is unlikely to recover. His fate is to be wrapped in a case of his own making, isolating himself from the world.
In the second story, a man tied to the farmland ventures occasionally into town and is befriended by a gentleman who graciously invites him home for dinner. The man's beautiful and captivating wife intrigues the farmer and he cannot overcome his inappropriate fascination with this married and forbidden fruit.
Will she abandon her family and run off with him? Will they be caught and revealed in a scandal? Or will the pair let their love wither and die without ever being satisfied?
Also in the cast are Jess Barbagallo, Tymberly Canale, Chris Giarmo and Aaron Mattocks as well as costume designer Oana Botez, set designer Peter Ksander, sound designer, artist and musician Tei Blow and video designer Jeff Larson. The fusion of video and sound, music and dance, with theater adds interesting elements to the staging.
For tickets ($36.50-$116.50), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Discover for yourself if love in nineteenth century Russia is destined to end in disaster.