Tuesday 18 December 2018
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.theguardian - 11 days ago

Uncle Vanya review – Terry Johnson brings brutality to Chekhov country

Hampstead theatre, London
There are vibrant performances in this new version of the Russian masterpiece, directed and written by Johnson Terry Johnson has directed his own new version of Chekhov’s masterpiece and has done a perfectly decent job. But, while this production contains some fine performances, it could afford to push the play’s emotional elements to wilder extremes and make greater use of symphonic sound in a play subtitled “Scenes from country life in four acts”. The language in Johnson’s version is more brutally direct than usual: Vanya describes the professor as “the luckiest sod I’ve ever met” and later says “I’ve worked my arse off for that man.” I’ve no issue with that. I was more bothered by the failure to exploit the sights and sounds that make Chekhov’s play a visual and aural poem: the chirping crickets, the banging window that heralds a night storm, the jingling harness-bells that proclaim the departure of the professor and his disruptively beautiful wife, Yelena, are all dimly present but there is too much dead air in the production. Continue reading...

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