ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

UNCLE VANYA by Anton Chekov and adapted by Conor McPherson Director: Josh Holden Players Theatre Over many years, seeing a plethora of playwrights’ scripts come to life on stage, works by Anton Chekhov have eluded me until this production of ‘Uncle Vanya’. I did wonder if the dialogue might be a little too old fashioned for my taste, even though I do love Shakespeare. I need not have worried, as this adaptation by Conor McPherson meant that this play of secret loves, long-held resentments and unrequited passion, and the tender exploration of human frailty was easy to follow. The premise of the play is that Sonya (daughter of Professor Serebryakov) and her Uncle Vanya maintain the dilapidating family estate in a rural part of Russia, only visited occasionally by the ecologically aware, radical and inspiring local Doctor Astrov. However, when Sonya’s father, Professor Serebryakov, suddenly returns with his new wife, Yelena, the tranquil, and seemingly satisfying life of all, is challenged. Matthew King, as Dr Astrov, spoke passionately of his love of nature and the dangers of deforestation. Yet, his day practice of being a doctor on call left him frustrated. There was an interesting shift in character from the drawn and weary doctor to the animated and passionate man when Yelena arrived at the house. Ian Wilkinson’s Vanya was strong, self-pitying evident when he says he was “cheated out of my life”. He is made to look a fool by his unrequited passion for Professor Serebryakov’s young wife, Yelena. Wilkinson showed us how the tortured soul has a conflict within for change in his life but also wanting the security of the insular life he had built for himself. The dialogue dynamic was confidently delivered and brought out the humour and sarcasm but ultimately the character was very