POST: 'Drunkle Vanya' - we were all a part of Uncle Vanya's big, dysfunctional family

What Is It About?

Drunkle Vanya is an adaptation of the Chekhov classic Uncle Vanya... featuring all the drama with additional boozing. The story centers around Uncle Vanya and his family, together in the Russian countryside for the holidays. Full disclaimer: If you are under 21, you are not allowed

What did I experience?

First curious occurrence of the night: this play took place inside a restaurant. I was terribly confused when I first walked in. No stage, no normal theater seating. Luckily, my girlfriend had gotten there earlier and figured out where we needed to go. After we spoke to the woman who was letting people in for the play, she let us through and then we walked into... the supply closet. After looking at each other, terribly confused, the lady kindly told us that the show was the other way, through this ruby-curtained corridor. I felt like I was going to a club or something, not a theater performance.

I think I need to explain another quirk of this play: class-based seating. Basically, ticket prices are divided into five tiers. The highest tier was "Royal Family", then "Bourgeoisie", then one whose name I forget, "Proletariat" and "Peasantry". Every tier gets different perks. I had "Proletariat" tier tickets, so my perks were that I was allowed a seat ("Peasantry" tier, the cheapest ticket, had to stand at the bar) and I got one free shot. Some of the higher tiers got perks like sitting on lush couches and had dinner and extra drinks provided for them. I thought (and still think) this was a really cool way to do seating, and made it fun to decide which "class" to experience the play as. They also gave us these stickers with phrases from Cards Against Humanity. At certain points in the play, actors would pause a scene and select three audience members, bring them to the stage and read their card. I'll explain more later!

Another full disclaimer: by the end of this play, I was decidedly tipsy. Probably due to the fact that I hadn't eaten dinner before going (oops). I've never been drinking during a play like this. I feel like, usually, the expectation is that you don't eat or drink while the play is underway, and then get all your snacks and drinks during the intermission. But this was the total reverse: people were eating real dinners and having multiple rounds of drinks while the play was going on. The waiter and waitress were especially impressive, as they had to slip through the pauses in the performance to grab people's orders, or to take back a finished plate or glass. So snaps to you, food service workers!

Okay, but back to the show itself: I loved that the cast would interact with the audience! We were all a part of Uncle Vanya's big, dysfunctional family, which was half the fun. I kept a watchful eye for when a cast member's perusing eye would lock onto my area, ready to pull me into the action. Once they gave me a nod I stumbled to center stage confidently. Another aside: some of the people pulled into the action were actually awarded with vodka shots. I was, sadly, not one of them. The actors read off my card, and while it did get some laughs, another one ultimately was deemed funnier. Although I did not get my free shot, the whole thing was still a lot of fun, never quite knowing what was going to come next.

When we left the performance, I had an insatiable hunger - no doubt brought on by my lack of dinner beforehand. But I would also venture a guess that seeing all the bourgeoisie chowing down on pierogis inspired a little revolutionary hunger. So I went to get what can only be described as the food of the proletariat in New York. That's right, I went to Halal Guys at 9:30 pm on a Thursday. if that's not living the cheap theater life, I don't know what is.

Want to see it?

$9 Peasantry tickets

@Tolstoy's Lounge
thru Dec. 30th