Written by Anton Chekhov, adapted by Annie Baker, by Red Stitch Actors Theatre
Red Stitch Actors Theatre, until Dec 17, 2016
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sun Nov 20, 2016
Nadia Tass’s production of Uncle Vanya begins with whimsy and farce tinged with cynicism but, as these late 19th century Russian characters confront the futility of their lives, the mood collapses into despair and grim pessimism.
Tass’s direction of Annie Baker’s modern adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s play focuses on the relationships and has a moody, languorous quality that matches the existential crises that all of the characters face during the play.
The first act is very funny, highlighting the absurdity of their circumstances when the old professor, Serebryakov (Kristof Kaczmarek), returns with his young, beautiful wife, Yelena (Rosie Lockhart), to the family estate, where he upends everyone’s lives with his demands for breakfast at noon and supper at 2am.
Chekhov wrote ensemble plays and this cast works as a unit to create this lethargic and depressing world of gentry who have lost any sense of purpose and who scratch at each other’s weaknesses until they bleed.