Latest news

Review: Uncle Vanya at Theatr Clwyd

All Images courtesy of and copyright The Other Richard 2017

He’s back, ladies and gentlemen. We Are Chester’s Deputy Editor, James Wright headed to his usual stomping ground of Theatr Clwyd, in the picturesque market town of Mold, to sample the delights and wonders of a 120-year-old Russian tragicomedy by Anton Chekhov. And yes, there was vodka!

It’s been a while since I attended a performance in that idyllic theatrical gem located just over the Welsh border called Theatr Clwyd.

And yet, almost like going back home, it felt like I had never truly left.

There’s a lovely family feel going on between the We Are Chester and Theatr Clwyd teams, I must declare.

Admittedly, an extended, weird family where one side invites the others to watch performances and the likes, but still, there’s a special bond going on between us.

 

And whilst that may sound like sloppy mush, there’s actually a very prominent and relevant reason I wrote that opening paragraph; and it has everything to do with Theatr Clwyd’s latest offering, Uncle Vanya.

 

Astrov_Oliver Dimsdale_backgr'd_Vanya_Jamie Ballard_19

Doctor Astrov (Oliver Dimsdale)(foreground) with Uncle Vanya (Jamie Ballard). Image courtesy of The Other Richard

 

Set in Russia, Uncle Vanya tells the story of a family living out their days tending the lands and keeping the Serebryakov estate in order.

One day, the beneficiaries of the estate’s gains, Professor Aleksandr Serebryakov (played by Martin Turner) and his second wife Elena (played by Shanaya Rafaat), visit the family’s country home.

There, they are greeted and attended to by the nurse Marina (as portrayed by Veronica Roberts), Sian Owens’ Efimia, the ‘affectionately’ named “Waffles” aka Ilya Ilych Telyegin aka Brendan Charleson, Mama Mariya (the renowned Welsh actress Sharon Morgan), the mother of the Professor’s first wife, grandmother to Sonya (played by Rosie Sheehy), and mother to Uncle Vanya himself (the extraordinarily talented Jamie Ballard).

 

The family have quietly been driven mad in the countryside, with Vanya, in particular, citing his life as being wasted living in the house.

Everything seems to change, however, when Elena comes into the household, captivating Uncle Vanya and the country doctor Astrov (portrayed by Oliver Dimsdale) into all but throwing away their admittedly futile lives for a hope of being with this captivating young woman…who don’t forget is married to Aleksandr…who owns the land…that Vanya and family live on. Something tells me that that might be a key plot point in the second half.

 

Elena_ShanayaRafaat_Vanya_JamieBallard_bac'dTelyegin_BrendanCharleson

Left-right; Elena (Shanaya Rafaat), Telyegin (Brendan Charleson)(background middle), Uncle Vanya (Jamie Ballard). Image courtesy of The Other Richard

 

Of course, not everything is as easy or as clear-cut as that in the world.

Sonya is equally infatuated with Astrov, and the love triangle (or should that be a square? Maybe even a pentagon?).

As Astrov is not interested in Sonya, however, her life is ruined through a variety of means.

And then there’s that climactic scene with Vanya and Aleksandr, which was arguably the best piece of acting I’ve ever, on any stage, in any theatre.

 

Vanya_Jamie Ballard_109

Uncle Vanya (Jamie Ballard). Image courtesy of The Other Richard

 

Interestingly, Uncle Vanya is described as a “comedy” and whilst there were plenty of laughs to go around, the ending was more tear-wrenching than I was expecting.

It soon devolves more into a Plight of the Proletariat than a comedy focusing on one Uncle Vanya (though I can’t stress enough just how bloody good Jamie Ballard is in this role!).

There’s twists. There’s turns. Heck, there’s even a gunshot!

 

Everything works in this play, and everyone brings joy to the stage, apart from when they’re crying. Of course. Hmm.

 

UncleVanya_Sonya_Rosie Sheehy_125

Sonya (Rosie Sheehy). Image courtesy of The Other Richard

 

This performance of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya marks the World Première of this adaptation, as written by Welsh playwright Peter Gill. Held in Theatr Clwyd’s Emlyn Williams Theatr (the slightly smaller one just outside the bar area and the art gallery), Peter Gill’s Uncle Vanya is a splendid look into the causes and effects of what living in the middle of nowhere, drinking far too much, and definitely not having enough sex can do to one’s psyche. I’m sure we can all sympathise with that!

And it’s happening right on our doorstep. What more could you ask for?

Running through 21st September to 14th October, tickets start from as little as £5! For more information on booking, visit the Theatr Clwyd website or call the Box Office on 01352 701521.

Uncle Vanya is a joint production between Theatr Clwyd and Sheffield Theatres and is directed by Tamara Harvey.

 

image001

Image courtesy of Theatr Clwyd

 

About JamesRAW1989 (12 Articles)
I'm what you may call a Nerd. I like Comic books, video games, writing, Movies, wrestling, music, and drawing. My heroes include Deadpool, Scott Pilgrim, and Moon Knight. I'm just trying to start up my own multi-media empire. Whether or not I get there is beside the point, but I'm sure as heck enjoying the ride thus far.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: