Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Tamara Harvey has truly arrived as Theatr Clwyd's Artistic Director.
By Anton Chekhov. A New Version by Peter Gill.

Uncle Vanya

Theatr Clwyd. , Emlyn Williams Theatre - Theatr Clwyd. , October-01-17
 Uncle Vanya by Theatr Clwyd. With this fine production of Uncle Vanya Tamara Harvey has truly arrived as Theatr Clwyd's Artistic Director. I have enjoyed the productions, both hers and other directors, since she first came but this co-production with Sheffield Theatres is the one that wholly succeeds and by the end is visually and verbally memorable.

That's certainly partly due to Peter Gill's flowing new version. It's also due to Lucy Osborne's set which opens up the Emlyn Williams Theatre into what seems like a very large space with the audience on four sides of the action.

But mostly it's down to the director and her actors who give us a Vanya, (a play which can sometimes seem very long indeed), that fairly flies by.

We are firmly in Chekhov's provincial Russia with a group of characters misunderstanding each other, falling in love with the wrong people and generally unable to make their minds up. At times I was reminded of Samuel Becket, characters keep waiting for something to turn up but it never does.

Jamie Ballard plays Vanya like a petulant schoolboy, self-centred and quick to fly off the handle, particularly with Martin Turner's stuffy academic Serebryakov.

Oliver Dimsdale is superb as Astrov, a man with very advanced ideas about the future of forests but who has no idea about how to treat women. Rosie Sheehy is delightfully innocent as Sonia, madly in love with Astrov. He though only has eyes for Elena, excellent Shanaya Rafaat, even though she's already married and is also the woman Vanya adores.

The rest of the cast flesh out their smaller roles with great conviction with the result that the audience, so close to the actors, feels enmeshed in the household.

It's a long time since I have been so caught up in the flow and emotions of a play, a fine
production indeed.

Reviewed by: Victor Hallett

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