Even by Chekhov's standards, this is a play where not much happens. Like Vanya and his niece, Sonya, working devotedly for her father, Serebryakov (ostensibly their landlord), all we have are the people around us: the servants; the dipsomaniac doctor Sonya loves; and now Serebryakov himself and his much younger wife, Yelena, whose discontented beauty is such a welcome distraction from the souring of long-cherished dreams.
Christopher Hampton's adaptation is fine but almost everything else in Lindsay Posner's production is misconceived, from the lugubrious wooden set to Anna Friel's leg-of-mutton sleeves: why, in a Russian play set sometime before 1899, have they done her up like an Edwardian matron? Friel has Yelena's looks but not her beguiling apathy: she's less a human fog than a firecracker deprived of a fuse.
Only Ken Stott, as Vanya, is properly tragic – he pulsates with misery. When he's onstage, we are glad to be trapped with him in this loveless mire: we watch his admiration for his brother-in-law drift a little farther every time Yelena wafts past, and mourn with him his loss of the one and his failure to capture the other. Still, it's hard to believe that even in stultifying pre-revolutionary Russia such a seemingly strongly personality would really have suffered the fate Chekhov so elegantly yet implacably sketched out for him.
Average User Rating
2.8 / 5
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Sub standard portrayals of the characters with the exception of Ken Stott as the titular role. Drab set and costume designs, wouldn't buy normal price tickets or recommend!
I think it’s in the lack of action and movement that the depth of the character’s depressions and reality of their apathetic lives shines through. I therefore don’t think it was boring, just quite scarily realistic. The production hangs off an already action-less script, and what they do with that within the acting is really poignant. It’s not a comedy and full of fun, but it’s not trying to be, and I took away a lot from both the script and the acting. It seemed that everyone around me was also moved by the performance and the content. I’d see Ken Stott and Laura Carmichael act again any day that’s for sure!
The newspaper reviews are, as usual, way off beam and out of touch with the audience like me who went to this production and paid to go as well. I have seen better versions but this one was very good and so thought everyone else around me in the theatre today. Thank you messrs, Stott, Friel, West and ensemble! Andrew, Sussex
The play does make you think and there is some good acting. However, it is punctuated by several boring bits. Dont pay more than £25 to see it.