Uncle Vanya

By Anton Chekhov adapted by David Hare

Theatre Royal Bath Summer Season

Until August 3

DAVID Hare’s adaptation serves to clarify Chekhov’s maze of complicated family relationships in household that seems aimless and at the same time frustrated by its lack of purpose.

This is great looking production. The set is superbly atmospheric with magical lighting.

The main problem is the audibility of many of the cast. It wasn’t just me. I checked. Many people simply could not hear the dialogue. Too much time in television studios and not enough on a live stage is probably the cause, but surely somebody in the production team should be aware and tell them.

Rupert Everett both directs and plays the title role, Uncle Vanya, whose home and estate have been commandeered by an academic in-law, long past his intellectual prime, and his much younger, beautiful, and bored, wife.

It is an excellently modulated performance by Everett, as a man whose life has been thrown out of kilter, who reaches a peak of despair and seeks a new normality.

John Light, as the doctor, Astrov, a friend of the family and frequent visitor, is another powerful focus of the drama. Hobbling about on a crutch, after an accident in rehearsal, Light makes the crutch a part of his character.

He also shows us a highly complex man, who cares deeply about the state of his beloved Russia, the poverty and disease, and the palpable failure of anyone to find a remedy. He has retreated into cynicism.

Chekhov draws an analogy between the state of the nation and the state of mind of his characters. Hare’s adaptation strikes a chord with contemporary Britain.

The cast also includes Michael Byrne as the demanding professor, Clemence Poesy as his wife and Katherine Parkinson as his daughter. John Standing, Marty Cruikshank and Ann Mitchell complete the main cast.

Jo Bayne