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Theatre Review (Pasadena): The Treatment, Based on a Chekhov Short Story

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Due mainly to hard economic times, theatres have been doing joint productions with other groups. A side result of this is that a particular theatre audience can have a chance to experience something different. Such is the case with The Theatre @ Boston Court’s latest production, The Treatment, where they collaborated with Theatre Movement Bazaar in choosing one of Chekhov’s short stories, “Ward 6,” written in 1892. Theatre Movement Bazaar are no strangers to Chekhov, having adapted his major plays in a manner that combines text with movement.

“Ward 6” is a story about a doctor, Ivan Gromov, who drives himself mad with paranoia. The hospital is run by Dr. Andrei Yefimich Rabin, a strange man obsessed with everything but his hospital. Rabin seldom visits the wards in this mental hospital. One day he wanders into the notorious Ward 6 that houses five pitiful patients. He gradually gets sucked into their world and is eventually ousted from his position as head of the hospital, becoming a patient himself whose disease is fatalistic depression. He sees no cure for man’s condition.

Telling a story through movement is not a new idea, but few theatres really attempt it these days. Here the movements are assigned almost word by word and often are performed in unison. Boston Court has assembled a skilled company to learn and carry out these complex moves. Mark Doerr, a veteran of the Antaeus Company and the Road Theatre, plays Rabin and is ideally cast. He is able to play a very normal guy but one who is easily corruptible. He is supported by Jake Eberle, Nich Kauffman, Matt Shea, Jacob Sidney, and Mark Stevens. All these actors are capable of turning on a dime, going from sane to crazy, from serious to silly.

The show was directed by Tina Kronis and written by Richard Alger, the co-founders of Theatre Movement Bazaar. Jeff Webster has created a very functional set that the cast is able to transform by turning around the flats and/or sliding panels built into the set.

The Treatment played at Boston Court from Feb 25 to March 25, and I saw the final matinee.

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