Best Of 2009

Best Theater Production: Cleveland State University's Chekhov in Yalta

Normally, the Great Lakes Theater Festival's tenderly wrought Seagull would be crowned with all of our critical laurels. But in an uncanny fluke, Chekhov the Character trumped Chekhov the Playwright as CSU brightened our summer evenings with John Driver and Jeffrey Haddow's obscure Chekhov in Yalta. The experience was not unlike an encounter with a Faberge egg — each layer offering a new delight. First, the play: a meditation on Chekhov's final, bittersweet love affair with both an actress and the theater itself. Next, the director: Cathy Hartenstein, debuting her theatrical finesse and jewel-like talents. Finally, the happy familiarity of two Cleveland pros: Greg Violand as Chekhov and Tracee Patterson as his actress inamorata. Both were at their most nuanced and tender. I watched this production like a child, enjoying the infinite delights of theater for the first time. (1833 E. 23rd St., 216.687.2113, — Keith Joseph

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