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Oh, to have been in New York in the spring of 2000 to see the most recent mounting of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, with Derek Jacobi in the title role and a supporting cast that included Laura Linney and Tony nominee Amy Ryan. That's all to say that Chekhov in general and Uncle Vanya in particular -- with its dark themes of futility, regret and unrequited love -- probably suffers in the hands of lesser talents. (Mr. Chekhov was many things, but Mr. Happy Fun Guy wasn't one of them.) That's why we're heartened to see the supremely talented ensemble from Red Noses tackling this most challenging Russian playwright. Buzz Podewell directs Gavin Mahlie in the title role (does this guy ever sleep during the summer?), along with Mark McLaughlin as the Professor, Danny Bowen as Doctor Astrov, Diana Shortes as Sonya, Laura Campbell as Elena, Abbey Lake as Marina, Greg Stratton as Waffles and Lauren Swinny as Maria Voinitski. Tickets $25 general admission, $10 students.

8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 11-13; through Aug. 27

Tulane University, McWilliams Hall, 838-8184

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