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Out and About: Laughing at Checkhov

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Posted on November 6, 2015 | Blog Category:
By Jessie Raymond



I didn’t plan to go see Neil Simon’s 1973 Broadway comedy “The Good Doctor” at Town Hall Theater Thursday night, for two simple reasons: (1) because, as I stated in my first “Out and About” blog post last week, I don’t like leaving the house, especially after dark; and (2) because I learned that the play was actually a series of 10 short individual plays based on stories by Anton Chekhov, of whom I know almost nothing. Furthermore, when I think of works by 19th-century Russian writers, words like “chortle” and “guffaw” do not come immediately to mind.

But then I reconsidered.

In response to (1): The whole point of starting this blog is to make myself get out of the house more, even if it means prying my own fingers off the door frame and dragging my unwilling body to the car. In the future, I vow not to use my homebody nature as an excuse, except in more extreme circumstances (e.g., snowstorm, fever, Christmas knitting deadline, etc.).

And as to (2): Chekhov might not be known for his laughs — but Neil Simon definitely is. And, even more important, if a familiarity with Chekhov’s literary works were required to attend “The Good Doctor,” what percentage of the population would even be allowed in the theater?

Reasoning that I’m not all that much less cultured than the rest of Addison County’s population, I went to the opening night performance, bringing along my 16-year-old daughter, who has exactly the same amount of background on Chekhov as me (zilch).

Here’s what I learned at the show: Though the set, and the setting, are 19th-century Russian, you don’t have to know a thing about Chekhov to enjoy this production. And you will laugh out loud. (Perhaps if you’ve read Chekhov, you’ll find it even funnier; Russian lit majors are invited to leave a comment below to explain what I missed.)

Going to “The Good Doctor” certainly livened up my evening. More importantly, it introduced me to the talents of several people in the community who, up to this point, I have known only superficially through their day jobs. I know I like to carry on about wanting to be a hermit, but I have to admit it's pretty cool to see familiar people in a new light — even if it means having to go out in public to do so.

If you’re up for a good chortle or a hearty guffaw, see “The Good Doctor.” The show runs through this weekend, with performances Friday and Saturday evening at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. Get your tickets at the THT website here.

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