Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Uncle Vanya

David Ganly as Uncle Vanya
Photo Credit: Anthony Robling

Samuel Adamson's Uncle Vanya, directed by Mark Rosenblatt, is currently playing at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.  The in-house production retells Chekhov's play starring David Ganly as Vanya.  Uncle Vanya is a rework from the playwright's previous writing, The Wood Demon.

Set in rural Russia the play is about a dysfunctional family whose members are trying their utmost to make their lives meaningful as possible despite the issues they have to face.  The audience is invited to observe the nine characters' lives particularly Vanya.  Lead by him all of them share their life experiences including their triumphs and struggles; hopes and frustrations; successes and disappointments; and the longing to be yearned and loved. Family and friends' loyalties are no doubt tested and divided given the circumstances for one to be true to oneself along with receipt of expectations.

It is evident in the play Chekhov wasn't afraid to address the human experiences in an ever changing world.  The diverse emotions, experienced among the characters, show how they deal with the ongoing changes, good and bad, in circumstances whether personal or societally collective.  There is no authorial presence though Chekhov could be related closest to Dr Astrov, played by Ryan Kiggell, because of their passion for the environment, a theme raised.  Chekhov is simply an observer of human life and its complexities; he allows his characters to be preoccupied in fulfilling their life ambitions and yet at the same time they are oblivious to what is happening around them.  This is evident with the characters' unexpected emotional outbursts when Professor Serebryakov proposes to sell the estate in Act III and more emotions are let loose at the end of the play.

Dick Bird's set is made up of disused telegraph poles and represents physically and figuratively the isolation and distance the characters face from everyday civilisation.  The set links with Astrov's outlook on the ever changing environment which just as paramount today.  This excellent production brings the best out of Chekhov, the characters, and the key themes which one can relate to today.  The themes certainly are relevant in the 21st Century as they were over 120 years ago as far as a 'self-discovery' of one's emotions are concerned.

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