CULTURE

Two different approaches to Chekhov masterpieces

Theatergoers have the opportunity to watch different approaches to two of Anton Chekhov’s works, one at the Kefallinias Street Theater and the other at the National Theater’s Main Stage. Stathis Livathinos has directed «The Cherry Orchard,» Chekhov’s last work, which is being staged at the Kefallinias Street Theater. He has opted for a classic reading of the play, which brings out the text and the acting touches. With her sets, Eleni Manolopoulou has managed to make the best use of a difficult venue, turning the theater’s columns into a functional set and creating a Chekhovian universe with her objects. A classic reading Livathinos chose to read the text as it is, enabling the audience to create its own dialogue with the playwright’s words and messages. He had at his disposal an experienced cast, which has given an in-depth and sensitive interpretation of an era in transition. It is a timeless work which deals with the conflict of two worlds, elegantly portraying the rising economic class of the early 20th century, with direct references to today’s nouveaux riches who are replacing the old bourgeoisie. Remaining faithful to his own theatrical approaches and beliefs, the National Theater’s artistic director Yiannis Houvardas has directed «Uncle Vanya.» This «Uncle Vanya» features a boiler instead of a samovar and makes use of modern, minimally designed furniture. There are no decorations on the walls and the only objects are cups, the boiler and blankets. But there is a video wall, where the leading actors are depicted larger than life singing French songs every time they want to convey some deep feelings. Houvardas also has a great cast at his disposal, which succeeds in giving a modern setting to the suffocating stalemate Chekhov’s characters experience. Houvardas’s production may seem strange at first, because of its controversial approach, but it follows the director’s views with great consistency. The two works are different. «The Cherry Orchard» is more political, while «Uncle Vanya» is more existentialist. They have both been translated by the talented Chryssa Prokopaki («The Cherry Orchard» is a brand-new translation), whose work remains true to Chekhov’s spirit and words, with sensitivity and comprehension. These are two different theatrical takes which can complement each other. Both plays remain contemporary, regardless of their director’s approach. «The Cherry Orchard» at the Kefallinias Street Theater, 16 Kefallinias, Kypseli, tel 210.883.8727. «Uncle Vanya» at the National Theater’s Main Stage, 22-24 Aghiou Constantinou, Omonia, tel 210.528.8170.