(Feingold’s article appeared in the Village Voice, 2/9.)
I startled a colleague recently by saying that I had never seen a completely successful Chekhov production. It's always a mystery to me when people acclaim a staging of one of the playwright's works as a total triumph. The simple truth is that Chekhov is complicated. His four masterpieces are all big-scale canvases, like Seurat's La Grande Jatte, built up out of innumerable tiny moments. Leaning too heavily on any of those moments, in performance, is the equivalent of making the viewer stand too close to the painting; it turns into an apparently meaningless welter of varicolored dots. Only when a director's shaping hand provides sufficient distance do the dots coalesce into a unified picture.