SF Bay Guardian, March, 1997

The middle-class Vanya has worked his entire life to support the career of his dead sister's husband, a much-lauded professor now in retirement and bemoaning his old age. When the professor and his young, beautiful new wife arrive at Vanya's estate, the close contact between beneficiary and patron culminates in a clash between thinkers and doers that resonates with the characteristic plagues of their generation - inaction, cynicism, and judgmentalism. The energetic Shotgun Players, directed by Patrick Dooley, take David Mamet's adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and turn out a funny and intimate version of the classic that's at times superb in its subtle comic portrayals (most notably Kevin Karrick as the country doctor Astrov). While the portrayal of the professor's wife, Yelena (Katie Bales), always a hard one to get right, seems slightly off-key - why would a woman described as lazy dash about the stage to avoid her suitors? - overall, the cast turns in fine portrayals, making Vanya, while definitely for the community (inexpensive tickets, accessible location), a head above most community theater.