THEATRE REVIEW: Uncle Vanya starring Paul Rhys

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

WHERE: Almeida Theatre

WHEN: 4/3 runs to 26/3

Director Robert Icke’s Oresteia which originated here last year has been nominated for three Oliviers and we can see this production of Uncle Vanya proving similarly successful.

This production is three hours and 20 minutes long and boasts three intervals. It also features the best use of David Bowie’s Jean Genie and Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life we’ve ever seen in the theatre.

Icke has adapted Chekhov’s classic here and we have a modern-day setting for this story of frustrated hopes and unhappiness. Paul Rhys is magnificent as the 47-year-old Vanya who declares his love for the lazy Yelena played by Vanessa Kirby (as memorable here as she was in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Young Vic in 2014).

Oresteia also featured Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay and she’s heartbreaking here as the desperately in love Sonya whose object of affection (Tobias Menzies as infuriating as he is decent) has fallen for the annoying Yelena.

Icke’s adaptation is very modern day and the revolving set (also a feature of the Young Vic’s Streetcar) works well here also drawing attention to the Almeida’s beautiful exposed brickwork.

Uncle Vanya shares with Icke’s earlier Oresteia the sense that this is very much event theatre. If we shall take one image away from it, it is the pain and sadness that bursts from the eyes of Rhys at the end. A 5* production that could well do as Oresteia did and transfer into the West End.

  • Tickets here. Picture by Manuel Harlan via Facebook courtesy Almeida Theatre.
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham

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