//Ad libs: Cheers for Chekhov

Friday, August 31, 2007

Cheers for Chekhov

It's theater in the key of Chekhov on the Peninsula this September: Both the Pear Avenue Theatre and Dragon Productions are taking the Russian playwright for a whirl. First "Three Sisters" opens at the Pear on Sept. 7, and then "Chekhov in Yalta" by John Driver and Jeffrey Haddow bows at Dragon on Sept. 21.

Meredith Hagedorn calls the pairing "an interesting confluence." And she's a link of sorts between the two plays: Besides being Dragon's founder and executive producer, she's in the Pear production, playing Olga.

"Once we realized the coincidence, we felt it was an opportunity to highlight the continuing popularity of Chekhov and his work," Meredith said in an email to me. "His plays are particularly relevant today, as the U.S. deals with its fading international image and a future fraught with unsettling change.

"The fact that he labeled his haunting works 'comedies' is a challenge for producers -- not to get caught up in the malaise of the characters, but to maintain sufficient critical distance to illuminate their plights with a comic tinge."

The Driver/Haddow play, by the by, is set in Chekhov's Yalta villa at the turn of the century, covering four days in the playwright's life.

Pictured: Clockwise from top left: Liz Coy as Masha, Sarah Cook as Irina and Meredith Hagedorn as Olga in The Pear Avenue Theatre's production of "The Three Sisters." Photo by Shannon Stowe.