When I read playwright Annie Baker’s bio I was not surprised to find that in addition to her own plays she did an award winning adaptation of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, presented at the Shaw Festival in 2016 (the only Shaw play we did not see last year as it did not fit the schedule!)
But the Chekhov connection explained why I had the same reaction to John as I do to Chekhov. I wanted to scream at Elias and Jenny that they needed to break up, just the way I always want to yell at Chekhov characters: if you want to go to Moscow, just buy a ticket and go!
Baker is known for her very realistic dialogue and this play demonstrated it perfectly. Four characters in a bed and breakfast – two very ordinary – Jenny and Elias and two very odd – Mertis and Genevieve. By the end of the play it is Mertis and Genevieve who seem ordinary, almost.
The acting was great with Nancy Beatty and Nora McLellan familiar from Shaw and Stratford and other companies. and Phillip Riccio and Loretta Yu new faces to us, but faces worth looking for in the future.
This was the first time we have seen Jonathan Goad as a director, rather than an actor. Clearly he has talent in this area as well as on the stage where he has long been a favourite.