Think Chekhov. Sub-zero winters, utter hopelessness, and suicide in Act III. In other words, Russia, and on a sunny July Saturday, beer in hand, Russia may not be your destination of choice.
But Pallas Theatre Collective defies expectations with The Tragical Mirth of Marriage and Love, which cleverly stitches together five of Chekhov’s farcical shorts in a playful offering about people who are stuck together.
Allison Galen and Michael Boynton lead the action of each short as the pursued and pursuant, bride and groom, and man and wife in each segment. Boynton and Galen electrify the performance with bold, broad takes on each character.
We watch an unexpected courtship begin in The Bear. Galen flounces across the stage as a widow cloistered in indulgent mourning–perhaps to avoid paying her bills–and passion erupts when Boynton refuses to leave her house until she pays her husband’s debt.
In The Proposal, Boynton attempts to propose to his neighbor (Galen), but is continually thwarted by the eruption of old family feuds. The Wedding shows Boynton and Galen as a newly betrothed couple mediating between their difficult families at their wedding reception.
The Tragical Mirth of Marriage & Love
by Anton Chekhov
at Fort Fringe – The Shop
607 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Details and tickets
In The Anniversary, Boynton’s egotistical businessman struggles to remove his insufferably talkative wife from his bank at an important business anniversary. Excerpts from An Unwilling Martyr provide playful transitions between each short play.
Tragical Mirth is a festival within a festival–the leading actors make bold, dynamic choices to give us four very different couples, while the ensemble contributes a whirlwind of new challenges for the leading couples, pushing each conflict to new heights.
Ty Hallmark’s direction is commendable, demonstrating an impeccable sense of movement and space. The cast forms appealing stage pictures as they swirl about the sparsely adorned stage, but never give the sense that they are simply going from tableau to tableau. Hallmark’s graceful staging uses continuous movement to add energy and interest to every scene.
The Tragical Mirth of Marriage and Love is lively and polished; timeless but fresh. As you’re making your schedule for Capital Fringe 2013, fear not — no one is asking you to sit through The Cherry Orchard.