C Lavrov and Sasha K Tuzova in an illustration from TEATP
Writing a feature on CSC's new production of Ivanov gave me the enviable homework of reading this lesser-known, infrequently seen Chekhov play, his first full-length. (Wish I'd seen Bart DeLorenzo's in L.A. earlier this year.) I'm not sure how it will play onstage, but it's a huge joy to read; it comes off almost like a latter-day playwright's angry, funny riff on Chekhovian themes, where subtext is made text and characters just come out and say the hateful, craven things that tend to creep out more artfully, ruefully, or indirectly in his later masterpieces. Even the fact that the central character's depressive paralysis remains relentlessly centerstage and stubbornly undiagnosed has a self-parodic but deadly serious edge to it—what actor Ethan Hawke calls, I think aptly, "something punk rock about the play."