{21/11/2012}   Impromptu theatre night: Uncle Vanya

Whenever I talk about the joys of living in London, I usually cite buying last minute theatre tickets as being a huge plus to living in London, that you can finish work and say, “Oh, I know, let’s go to Leicester Square and get half price tickets for a show tonight”.  Yeah, right, like I’ve ever done that!  I’m staying in London this week and last night I did just that after work.  My friend joined me and we got row seven tickets to see Uncle Vanya, the latest adaptation of Chekhov’s play, first published in 1897, starring Ken Stott, Anna Friel, Samuel West and Laura Carmichael.

I have always said that I enjoy theatre more after the event than during as I find it horrendously uncomfortable and a touch boring.  The latter I blame on film culture whereby there are effects and more emphasis on the changing scenes.  Last night, however, I was engaged throughout and only looked at my watch once.  I really enjoyed it and appreciated that we had good seats, in the middle, seven rows from the stage.

I know the first two actors but only vaguely Samuel West and I had never heard of Laura Carmichael.  Though I hasten to add that I did not want to see this play because of the cast.  Ken Stott was as brilliant as you’d hope and draws you into his character and not for a minute do you doubt he is Uncle Vanya.  I thought Anna Friel was pretty good, not exceptional but convincing.  I thought Samuel West was really good and delivered his lines naturally, like Ken Stott.  I found out Laura Carmichael played Lady Edith in Downton Abbey, which I have never seen.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t keen on her performance.  It was technically good, but I don’t like how she projected her voice, it was too stagey, not natural.  The supporting cast were also good, though for similar reasons to Laura Carmichael I didn’t enjoy the performance of the stand-in who played Nanny.  She was a great character, with some fun lines, but she merely delivered her lines and was more sit-com than stage.

As for the play itself, it’s Chekhov so it’s about people and is also about Russian life in the countryside.  Nothing in particular happens, it’s just a slice of life, but I loved the flawed characters and their complaining and misery and the fact it was witty.  The two male leads were brilliant, though aided by a fantastic script.  Anna Friel was also well cast as the unhappy beauty who messes with the hearts and minds of the main men in the film.  I read that Cate Blanchett had been in a production of Uncle Vanya playing the Anna Friel role, Yelena.  I would have loved to have seen her in that role.  Though I reiterate that Anna Friel was good.

The set deserves a paragraph of its own because it was amazing.  It was the interior and exterior of a large wooden house and was very atmospheric and beautifully crafted.

Overall, I hope that another day I will think to get last minute tickets because it was a really lovely evening and a great way to spend an evening.  I don’t like having things booked, particularly as my work finish times are so unpredictable, and this is a perfect way for me to see a play and have an enjoyable evening out.


Leave a Reply

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

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s

et cetera
%d bloggers like this: