You don't have to be a Chekhov aficionado to appreciate this entertaining and clever mock-up of his art. Directed by Dan O'Connor, the evening's humor derives from a savvy and seasoned ensemble who specialize in fashioning a unique, full-length parody for each performance. Rather than a detailed lampooning of The Cherry Orchard or The Three Sisters, the ensemble fashions its own harebrained plot, hewing closely to the motifs such as unrequited love and longing that mark Chekhov's plays. The evening I attended, the story revolved around a Russian family with two daughters: Anya (Patty Wortham), lovesick and insufferably cheerful, and Olga (Edi Patterson), who languishes in the dumps while a bevy of suitors including her sister's fiancé vie for her favor. Meanwhile, a host of termites attack their father's (Brian Lohmann) walnut grove, precipitating their estate's demise. Not every scene works equally well, of course, but in general the laughs are plentiful and hearty. Paul Rogan steals pretty much every scene he's in as the daft and nerdy schoolmaster betrothed to Olga, and Lisa Fredrickson is spot-on as the family's officious matriarch. Impro Theatre at the Pasadena Playhouse (in the Carrie Hamilton Theater), 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 2 p.m.; Sat. 10 p.m.; Sun. 7 p.m.; in rep with Tennessee Williams Unscripted and Twilight Zone Unscripted; through Nov. 13. (626) 356-PLAY, ImproTheatre.com.
Saturdays, 2, 8 & 10 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m. Starts: Oct. 8. Continues through Nov. 13, 2011