Guillermo Calderón's sparsely lit, loquacious play Neva, now showing at the South Coast Repertory in an English-translation, stars three characters, one of whom is Olga Knipper, widow to Anton Chekhov. The other two are aspiring theater actors, and the trio are rehearsing for The Cherry Orchard at the St. Petersburg Theater. But the year is 1905—and outside the venue, the Tsarist regime is mercilessly shooting down workers on strike. While they wait for the rest of the theater company to arrive, they wax philosophical and act out scenes from their lives, including Chekhov's final moments. There are many themes here: love, death, art, politics, anxiety, beauty, capitalism. Neva is both appreciated and detested by theater critics—so come to SCR this week and judge for yourself.
June 19-23, 2013