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Uncle Vanya review at The Print Room London

There’s a feverish quality to Lucy Bailey’s atmospheric production of Chekhov’s melancholy masterpiece. Her staging heightens the claustrophobia of the characters’ situation, while also playing up the comedy of their plight. She makes superb use of the Print Room’s performance space, the audience arrayed around the edges, the performers at times almost tumbling into their laps.

It’s a very physical production, with Iain Glen’s deeply frustrated Vanya writhing around as if trying to escape his own skin and William Houston’s charismatic, if frequently well-liquored Astrov, tumbling from his chair after overdoing it on the vodka. The two spark off one another wonderfully. Mike Poulton’s new version of the text – a revision of an earlier take on the play – is often remarkably frank, especially when Astrov blatantly offers himself up to Yelena, but it also engages with Chekhov’s innate humour. William Dudley’s set design is attractive in its use of sepia tones although the stage is somewhat cluttered by furniture.

The performances are strong throughout. David Yelland milks every possible laugh from his pompous professor, a hypochondriac, while Charlotte Emmerson’s measured performance as the eternally put-upon but optimistic Sonya prevents things from becoming too broad, too jovial. She provides the emotional anchor to a production that occasionally verges on the excessive.

Production Information

The Print Room, London, March 21-April 28

Authors
Anton Chekhov, adapted by Mike Poulton
Director
Lucy Bailey
Producer
The Print Room
Cast includes
Iain Glen, Caroline Blakiston, Charlotte Emmerson, Lucinda Millward, Marlene Sidaway, David Yelland
Running time
2hrs 25mins

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