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NY1 Theater Review: 'The Snow Geese'

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Mary-Louise Parker returns to the New York stage in a new play called "The Snow Geese." NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

If it wasn't apparent midway through "The Snow Geese" that playwright Sharr White was taking his inspiration from Anton Chekhov, just consider the avian title. Chekhov, of course, famously wrote "The Seagull." Mr. White is clearly setting his sights awfully high, and if "The Snow Geese" doesn't rise to the level of a Chekhov classic, it's still an engaging work with a big lift from Daniel Sullivan's superb production.

Set in 1917, the play concerns the extended Gaesling family in their upstate New York hunting lodge. Newly widowed Elizabeth decides to open up the house for the traditional start of hunting season. Her sister Clarissa and German-born brother-in-law Max are staying with her, along with Elizabeth's two sons, Duncan and Arnold.

The dynamic is distinctly Chekhovian, with family members alternately bored and bickering. Complicating their relationship, tensions surrounding favored son Duncan's imminent deployment to war and the revelation from Arnold that his beloved father left them financially broke.

Production values are tremendous. Sets, lights and costumes greatly enhance the sense of time and place.

And the ensemble is first-rate, starting with Jessica Love as a Polish maid and the two brothers, Evan Jonigkeit and Brian Cross. Mary-Louise Parker, sounding a bit too contemporary, still crafts a nicely nuanced portrait of a once privileged woman desperately clinging to the end of an era. And Victoria Clark as a sensible and proper older sister is outstanding, along with Danny Burstein as a survivor, once again on the losing side of history.

"The Snow Geese" characters share Chekhov's thematic constant - boredom. The challenge is how to write about it without becoming it. Chekhov masterfully avoided that dramatic pitfall. Not quite Sharr White. And if his first act is slow to take off, he's got the ideal company to ensure a heartfelt landing.

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