A review by Suzanne Birrell.
Neva is a powerful play. The story takes place at a rehearsal of Chekov but most of the actors and the director have not shown up. It is feared they have died in the violence of an ensuing revolution. One does not need to have any knowledge or appreciation of Chekov in order to get swept up into the emotion of the drama. Neva takes place in the winter of 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia, but the thoughts, and concerns find commonality with the politics of our times. There is a war between the haves and the haves not- those who have grown up with privilege and those who have not. While people are dying in the street the aging actress Olga Knipper is concerned about growing old and getting fat. She criticizes her fellow actors and what follows is like visiting a mad house. The actors go in and out of "acting." An all too real moment is stepped out of and looked back on as an exercise. As the play progresses, the young actress Neva become more labile and attacks theatre as an art. At one point she yells, "People are starving in the streets and you want to put on a play?"
A three person ensemble. Powerful. Intriguing story. The brilliance is in the commentary of our time and place buried in a story of another time and place The opening monologue runs a bit long for my taste, but once into the play, it's a good story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. A must see for those who want intense drama.