A fast paced exploration of the dynamics of the relationship between
the lover and the loved one who loves another, complicated by the
fact that the lover is the writer and the other his lead actress. That each of the variations is derived from the same scene from Chekhov is an
oversimplification as there is little of the repetitiveness that I expected.
Instead there is a slow accretion of knowledge as more is revealed about
In the original both characters are played throughout by the same two actors; in this production the parts are shared among three Ninas and three Treplevs (who are almost always performing as a single pair) which creates additional interest in seeing how they develop their characters and the relationship between them. The cast is strong – the indicator for me was that each of the pairs at times drew me in to the point of being lost in the moment.
I found the pairing of Max Kleinman and Shashona Brooks to be the most interesting to watch. The fire, the anger, the frustration, the desire (one-sided), and the jealousy felt by one or the other was quite palpable. Max in particular is an eye-catching actor. His fluid moves, particularly the use of his whole body to articulate and define his emotions and expand on his words, drew my eye to him whenever he was in action.
Despite being a short play (about an hour long), The Nina Variations was a most satisfying theater experience.