Monday, 3 November 2014

'Uncle Vanya' St James Theatre ***

More often than not, certain plays become revived relentlessly, and contextualised to appeal to contemporary audiences, and Anya Reiss’ new version of Anton Chekhov's classic text, ‘Uncle Vanya’ is now bidding to engage audiences at the St James Theatre. Unfortunately, one found it does not fully achieve these aspirations as there's far too much melodrama acting, and not enough emotional capability. ‘Uncle Vanya’was first performed in Russia during 1899, and conveys how families conflict with one another, and how anger can strengthen one man into miserable state. The play it in the country state of the somewhat elderly gentleman, Serbryakov, along with the family of his first wife appears to be satisfied with his control, as they respect is intentions. Nonetheless, Vanya seems exceedingly frustrated by Serbryakov’s presence and his position of the man of the house as he knows that this role should inevitably be his. In addition to this, Vanya, and the rest of the family are becoming increasingly lethargic as their daily activities are continual, and there appears to be a lack of excitement within their lives. We observe a romance develop between the doctor, Astrov and Vanya’s sister, Sonia, but due to both their inhibitions, the only apparent passionate moment between the two of them is when they casually share a bag of Tyrell’s salted crisps. Sonia is slightly concerned with both Astrov’s and Vanya’s alcoholism, because they consume an array of alcohol products nearly all day, every day. Vanya himself is frequently despondent with his life prospects as his place as head of the family, and head of estate has been overhauled by Servryakov, which leads to his anger increasing, and inescapably causes him to explode by demanding that he, and is youthful wife to leave the house, and never return. This plea is actioned at the finale. Reiss’ interpretation of Chekov’s narrative is rather satisfactory for ones liking as the emotional capacity through the character of Vanya and Serbryakov does not stimulate ones engagement. On the other hand, some elements were amusing, however this is particularly rare. The performances by the coming of ‘Uncle Vanya’ were suitably pleasing through carefully considered portrayals as these roles have been constantly played by different people since its first production over 100 years ago. John Hannah is excellent as the central protagonist, Vanya. One found his despairing moments when he thinks his life is not worth living was singularly unsettling to witness, and suggest a negative consequences to alcohol. Jack Shepherd is gracious as the false head of the house, Serbryakov; especially when we see his plan to turn the estate into a prospective business to diminish, and his horrifically poor health has some unfortunate situations in his current marriage. Russell Bolam’s direction is acceptable here as an enormous amount of both emotive and comical elements appeared underdeveloped and the consistency needed more dramaturgical investigations. Janet Bird’s design is interesting as one appeared to be transported to the fraught atmosphere between Vanya and Serbryakov, as well as the entire family and acquaintances. Overall, one found the experience of ‘Uncle Vanya’ to be of a courteous standard, and an amiable contextualisation, despite the lack of cohesive emotional and comical moments.

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