After attending the premiere of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in 1899, Count Leo Tolstoy, reportedly shouted, “Where is the drama? What does it consist of?” (Professors from Moscow University, who thought the work unfair toward intellectuals, also complained.) But Tolstoy’s tetchy cries have rarely received echo in the ensuing century: Chekhov’s avuncular play has earned and upheld a reputation for mordant comedy, tender melancholy, and penetrating insight. Austin Pendleton’s revival for the Classic Stage Company packs extra drama—he’s cast husband-and-wife screen stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard as lovers Yelena and Astrov. Dennis O’Hare, Mamie Gummer, and George Morfogen round out the unhappy family.
Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m.; Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Jan. 17. Continues through March 8, 2009