The Present

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Think of one contentious extended family at a 40th Birthday gathering when the days are endless and purpose is in short supply. A group of misguided libidos are in search of… relief of boredom; even resuscitated passion. OR this is merely a dysfunctional family gathering that goes terribly wrong.

Whatever the “real Russian story” (“Platonov,” by Anton Chekhov), it is spellbinding in its taut rendition of relationships run amok.

Anton Chekhov’s play gives Cate Blanchett as “Anna” and Richard Roxburgh as the beleaguered “Mikhail” two pithy roles to command and control. Anna’s cool, fierce beauty is basically in charge of her unruly brood. Mikhail uses his lukewarm approach to infuriate his “suitors,” then absents himself to avoid being approached for favors. There are flirtations, both serious and comic. In the end, however, true agony bursts the growing bubble of frustration and we see… The End.

The play is long and somewhat repetitious but superbly acted by this talented cast. Try to sit down front where you can see the facial expressions up close and personal.

Barbara Tober

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Posted: 01/05/17 by Ben Rosen

“The Present” originated in Australia featuring uberstar Cate Blanchett and her frequent co-star, the superb Richard Roxburgh. It was adapted from Chekhov’s first play and transported in time to post-Glasnost Russia. For three hours, we watched wonderful acting by the stars and the entire ensemble. What was missing was any emotional transfer from the stage to the audience, or at least to me. Lots of dysfunctional people, lots of sex, and LOTS of vodka drinking. And even several attention-getting pistol shots at the end (remember, it’s Chekhov) with real blanks (an oxymoron?). But who cared? Dissolute characters devoid of any reality. It’ll probably win a bunch of Tonys.

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