It’s hard to review this show without just writing a love letter to the entire cast and crew. So to start off I will say, The Present is a show that will stick with you, that will challenge you, that will make you think days after seeing it, and will over all just blow your mind. Most people see the name Anton Chekov and either roll their eyes or jump for joy. Personally I have always been on the fence. I am a lover of the classics but I also have ADD so I have a short attention span. (It’s a curse) Writer Andrew Upton manages to take one of Chekhov’s early works and turns it into this modern high speed chase of love, life, passion, and of course vodka. I honestly don’t think I have ever been so entranced with a show, and that’s saying a lot since this one is four acts!
The playbill is key in this production because Mr. Upton gives you some backstory of these characters if you are unfamiliar with Chekhov’s work. But beyond the stellar writing, director John Crowley has staged this production so beautifully. Upton and Crowley have managed to make Chekhov actually funny. We have a cast of 13 very different characters and Crowley gave each of them shinning moments and it never felt, crowded or upstaged, it was perfect chaos.
Now, let me gush my love for the actors. Bare with me because, after this show I feel as I know them, and we are all now friends. Cate Blanchett! Cate Blanchett! CATE BLANCHETT! I could watch her on stage just sitting doing nothing and she would manage to make it interesting some how. She has this ease, and effortless about her that is just memorizing. And just when you think she is just perfectly poised, she gets up on a table and dances to punk rock! I was with her on her entire journey of her 40th birthday.
And then we have Mr. Richard Roxburgh. Who in my opinion steals the show. He starts off as this classic flighty playboy; all the girls love him (on and off stage) and then becomes the most grounded character. He manages to make you laugh in inappropriate situations and you can’t help but love him. And when he’s with Ms. Blanchett its pure magic!
The ensemble is filled with so many stars its hard to talk about them all. Toby Schmitz (Nikoli) has a spark that whenever he was on stage I couldn’t stop watching. Chris Ryan (Sergei) is probably the most loveable character on stage, and I just rooted for him through the show. Jacqueline McKenzie (Sophia) plays the perfect balance of a hot mess. Every actor on stage did beautiful work!
If you are looking for a show to make you make you laugh, cry, and honestly feel better about your friends and family, head to the Ethel Barrymore Theatre and see The Present!
Review: Bri Burnside
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus