You don't need to be intimately acquainted with all of Anton Chekhov's works to enjoy the double bill put on by the Quotidian Theatre Company.
The first offering, "A Little Trick," is a translation and adaptation to the stage of a Chekhov short story. It takes place during the 19th century on "an icehill in a provincial Russian town," nicely suggested by John Decker's set design.
The play is a monologue, as its female character, Nadya (Sara Dabney Tisdale), does not speak. Its male character, Ivan (Jonathan Feuer), tells the story of one winter when Ivan and Nadya slide down the icehill on a sled. Tisdale and Feuer work beautifully together as the terrified Nadya and the proud and protective Ivan. As she nearly faints with fear, he whispers his love to her, causing her to want to take to the icehill again and again.
The third character is the Wind (Christine Kharazian), who does not speak but plays Vivaldi's "Winter" from "The Four Seasons" on the violin. Stephanie Mumford's direction of this poetic, suggestive piece is deft and subtle, emphasizing its elusive nature as a play about perception and deception.
|'A Little Trick' and 'Afterplay'|
|Where: The Writer's Center, 4508 Walsh St., Bethesda|
|When: Through August 19|
|Info: $20, $25 for students and seniors; 301-816-1023; quotidiantheatre.org|
Brian Friel's play imagines what it would be like if two characters in two of Chekhov's dramas met in a whole new setting. He places Sonya Aleksandrovna Serebryakova (Michele Osherow), the plain daughter from "Uncle Vanya," in a restaurant in Moscow in the early 1920s.
There she meets Andrey Sergeyevich Prozorov (David Dubov), the unfortunate, cuckolded brother in "The Three Sisters." One of the main themes of that play is the fact that the sisters hope to go to Moscow, a hope that will never be fulfilled. In "Afterplay," Prozorov talks about his sisters' foolish, unfulfilled imaginings as well as his own.
In order to make up for the fact that his existence is dismal, Prozorov lies about his life, and these lies are the basis of his relationship with Sonya, who also reveals the sadness of her life, her unrequited love. Sbarbori's sensitive direction, Osherow's and Dubov's talent and Friel's quirky sense of humor flourish in this theatrical gem.
Both "A Little Trick" and "Afterplay" deal with fantasies, with the worlds that people construct beyond the real world. The double bill is a fitting tribute to a playwright whose work so eloquently created characters full of fantasies and fractured dreams.