Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Not sure if I mentioned, but this was brilliant! I loved every second of Lucy Bailey’s production of this Chekhov classic. Granted, I am a Chekhov fan so it was kind of a given. Yet to see it performed, produced and directed to the standard I saw last night was nothing short of magic.
Gushing over, now the ins and outs. The audience is immediately confined into a hazy, warmly lit beautiful yet simple set where the claustrohobia – prevalent in the text – is heightened by the audience sitting against the four walls looking in on the frustrated, grumbling world of the characters. The Print Room is a great venue where even though the space is very intimate, one does not feel uncomfortable or fidgety.
Having said the characters are grumbling, that is by no means a negative. The play revolves around three men who are moaning about their lot alongside two women who moan about theirs. Two of the men seek solace in alchohol – thankfully no drunk acting! - and the women through putting on a brave face. It was an absolute pleasure to watch the unravelling of Vanya’s desperation, scaffolded with genius by the fantastic Iain Glen. As an actor, I felt like I was privvy to a masterclass in how emotional truth and journey is portrayed and found. Never once did I find myself drifting from the gripping text, translated excellently by Mike Poulton. William Houston’s Astrov was portrayed tremendously. He provided the gravitas needed to contrast Vanya’s weakness and certainly had me swooning by the end completely empathising with the attraction of the the two female leads!
Charlotte Emmerson portrayed a very humble, modest Sonya. Her performance was very moving and heart felt. Contrasted brilliantly by Lucinda Millward. David Yelland’s Serebryakov was suitably irritating and self indulgent, he found these brilliantly leaving the audience tickled by his truculent self importance and hypochondria!
William Dudley’s design is beautiful. The transitions between scene changes were masterful and engaging. It was so pleasurable to watch a production of Chekhov that was still so true to the emotional depth of his writing but also provided a lightness and humour that only served the beauty and the depth of the text further. I cannot recommend this production enough. I left feeling elated and having experienced, in a nutshell, a bloody good piece of theatre!