The best thing I saw this weekend: Mikhail Baryshnikov in ‘Man in a Case’

December 9, 2013

The best thing I saw this weekend? This man:


Photo of Mikhail Baryshnikov in Man in a Case by T. Charles Erickson.

The legendary Mikhail Baryshnikov stars in "Man in a Case," presented at the Shakespeare Theatre, adapted and directed by Annie-B Parsons and Paul Lazar. And much like this weekend's weather, an icy wind whistles through this adaptation of two of Chekhov's short stories about love and despair. Both vignettes concern a man, played by Baryshnikov, who is unable to express his feelings. The first man is a cold, foreboding figure, for whom love offers a fleeting excuse for warmth (perhaps it's just the power of holiday suggestion, but there are a few hints of Ebenezer Scrooge here). The second is a man whose longing for love will forever go unfulfilled.

Yes, you will see Baryshnikov dance in this production, which is a hybrid of theater, movement, live music and film. One of the most beautiful moments comes in a pas de deux that takes place on the floor with one of his lamentable love interests, filmed and projected to give the audience a bird's-eye view. Coming from one of the world's greatest dancers, it is the captivating, wordless embodiment of regret.

"Man in a Case" at the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Lansburgh Theatre, 450 Seventh St. NW. 202-547-1122. $45-$110. 

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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Margaret Ely · December 9, 2013