Total Rating: 
June 3, 2017
July 1, 2017
Los Angeles
Coeurage Theater Company
Theater Type: 
Greenway Theater
Theater Address: 
544 North Fairfax Avenue
Running Time: 
2 hrs, 45 min
Boni B. Alvarez
Beth Lopes

It must have seemed like a good idea to playwright Boni B. Alvarez: doing an updated, gay-oriented version of Chekhov’s Ivanov. His radical adaptation of the play, now called Nicky, found favor with the Coeurage (sic) Theater Company, which has backed the drama with a lavish production at the Greenway Theater (impressive set, large cast, costumes galore).

Unfortunately, the evening comes off as a great big mess. Alvarez’s first mistake is violating Chekhov’s modus operandi of setting his stories in the Russian provinces, far from the big lights and sophistication of a major city. Nicky takes place in Palm Springs, an affluent adjunct of Los Angeles, the wrong place for a main character who is supposed to be dead broke, trapped in a web of frustration and futility. It’s hard to convey angst while sitting by a private swimming pool with a vodka on rocks in hand.

Nicky (the brave Cyrus Wilcox), the eponymous hero of the play, is not a burnt-out landowner this time around. Instead he’s a Silicon Valley entrepreneur whose business fortunes have soured. He’s come down from San Francisco to lick his wounds and bemoan his fate, paying no attention to his dying wife Anna (Sandy Velasco). Surrounding him are various relatives and friends, some of whom speak with Russian accents, some with harsh American voices. The mixture, to say the least is jarring and off-putting.

In Ivanov, the landowner has a love affair with Sasha, the young daughter of a neighbor. In Alvarez’s play, Sasha is a teenaged boy (Chris Aguila) who is not only infatuated with Nicky but senses what is troubling him: that he is secretly and guiltily gay. Sasha is certain that his unconditional love will save him, only to be crushed when Nicky, after being outed, kills himself by jumping in the pool (and presumably swallowing all that chlorine-laced water).

Nicky is full of subplots and minor characters, including a San Francisco doctor (Nardeep Khurmi) down in Palm Springs on a prolonged house call, a Russian-born matchmaker (Julia Silverman), and a foul-mouthed wise-guy named Julian (Jaime Barcelon) who raises hell every once in a while in an attempt to provide comic relief. Instead, like the play itself, all he does is annoy.

Chris Aguila, Jaime Barcelon, Ted Barton, Alexis Genya, Taylor Hawthorne, Mark Jacobson, Daniel Kaemon, Nardeep Khurmi, Jeremy Lelliott, Julia Silverman, Emily Swallow, Sandy Velasco, Cyrus Wilcox, Caro Zeller. (There is an 11-person alternate cast)
Stage Manager, Stage Mgr: Summer Grubaugh; Set: Benoit Guerin; Lighting: Azra King-Abadi; Sound: Michelle Stann; Costumes: Karen Fix Curry; Props: Sammi Smith; Dialect Coach: Caitlin Muelder
Willard Manus
Date Reviewed: 
June 2017