“I like Chekhov because he insists his plays are comedies,” says Ben McLaughlin, who performs in both one-acts. “When you read them, they’re very dramatic. But when you try to make a comedy into a drama, you do the work a disservice.” In The Bear, McLaughlin plays Smirnov, “a misogynist who believes only men know how to love properly.” In The Proposal, the actor plays the lovelorn Lomov, “a wealthy landowner looking to get hitched.”
For Chekhov virgins, McLaughlin thinks these shorts are a great intro into a larger, funnier world. “Chekhov was the Ricky Gervais of his time,” says John Johnston, executive artistic director, who’s directing the productions. “He commented on the social structure and ridiculous people in vaudevillian, farcical situations.” Classical Theatre rounds out the evening with a reading of Chekhov’s essay The Evils of Tobacco. 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and October 12 and 17; 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Through October 23. 4617 Montrose. For information, call 713-963-9665 or visit classicaltheatre.org. $10 to $25. [Organizer's description:] Classical Theatre Company returns to the Russian Master Anton Chekhov with an evening of his one-act plays: The Bear and The Proposal plus a bonus reading of his essay The Evils of Tobacco. These pieces are representative of Chekhov's vaudevillian comedies, short and packed with comic bits. While the humor in The Bear and The Proposal is broader and more farcical than in his better known works, his commentary on the Russian social structures of the time are no less satirical and biting. "Chekhov is the king of the awkward comedy. You can think of him as the Ricky Gervais of his time," says CTC Executive Artistic Director John Johnston. "He boldly lampooned those around him with his plays during a tumultuous time in Russia, letting the consequences fall where they may." Both plays examine love among the landed aristocracy of Czarist Russia and will leave the audiences in stitches. The Evils of Tobacco is a comic essay meant to be performed and will lead off the evening of Chekhov shorts. "I love this little monologue about a browbeaten husband. Like the other two pieces, it's a hidden Chekhov gem," says Johnston. $25 Adult/$15 Senior/$10 Students & Teachers
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