Get our free email newsletter with just one click

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

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

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price