We gave it an A-
News of the Broadway premiere of a play by a Russian master might provoke skepticism—is there a reason no one has staged this little-known Turgenev comic drama? It’s easy to see why: Alan Bates has never been available to star, and no one thought to ask Arthur Penn to direct. Like most Russian plays, this one has birch trees, a country house, and a disputed inheritance. But it also has a fallen nobleman whom Bates portrays with comic zest and throat-catching pathos. This is a great actor in a great performance, beautifully complemented by an over-the-top Frank Langella as the mincing villain. Penn, the superb film director (Bonnie and Clyde) who began as a superb stage director (The Miracle Worker), still knows, at 79, where the heart of a piece resides. In all, an unexpected delight.