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404 Strand, London, WC2R 0NH
Ended 26 Jan 2013 after 3 months
An unalloyed joy
Prolific playwright Anton Checkhov's classic tragicomedy about wistfulness, unrequited love and wasted lives in provincial Russia now takes to London's Vaudeville Theatre stage. It features a star-studded cast, including Downton Abbey's Laura Carmichael and award-winning actor Anna Friel, as well as theatre veteran Ken Stot, who is gloriously lugubrious as the production's titular character Vanya.
The production's theme of despair, often recurring in Chekhov's works, is artfully handled; there is a delicate juxtaposition between deep misery and dark humour that elicits sympathy and empathy from the audience. An imposing set design of samovars and dark wood reflects the characters struggles with the pain of love, setting the tone of what proves to be a melancholic yet bittersweet production.
Vanya runs the rural estate of his brother-in-law Serebryakov, a thankless task that supports the urban lifestyle of Serebryakov and his glamorous young wife Yelena. Tensions run high when the couple comes visiting and Serebryakov thoughtlessly talks about disposing of the house in favour of other investments.
This strain is underpinned by the inhabitant's emotional turmoil. Vanya struggles with his feelings for Yelena as well as the regret of misspent youth, Serebryakov's dowdy niece Sonya pines after the handsome doctor Astrov while trying to keep her family together and Astrov himself nurtures feelings for the alluring Yelena. Tensions reach a head in the fourth act and dramatic highpoint of this captivating play.
Opening night: 24 October 2012
Closing night: 26 January 2013
2 hours 20 mins (inc interval)
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