This is a claustrophic, intense and excellent production of Uncle Vanya, staged in the round vivaciously so that noone should feel cheated by sightlines. Despite my reservations that Iain Glen is simply too much of an alpha male to be Vanya, too charismatic to be cowing to David Yelland certainly, his expression of dashed expectations and the loss of all hope was harrowing. He is helped by the fact that William Houston's Astrov is a silverback gorilla of a man, pounding (and heavy breathing) his uber-alpha male frame around the set, with a deep raspy voice that evoked the sturdiness of Barry White. Such a man, you can accept, could get the better of Glen in a love rivalry. And these excellent actors are surrounded by a flawless ensemble, the all-round competence of which is only rivalled by that of the Old Red Lion's Mercury Fur. Indeed, Charlotte Emmerson's Sonya is exquisitely touching in her expression of unrequited love, forthrightness and a compassionate heart. The most remarkable moment in this play, for me, was when David Yelland delivered his life-changing speech, in the second half, to the entire assembled ensemble. He does it in such a sanctimonious, self-regarding, pernickety way to the bewildered gathering that it had me in hysterics, and then Glen's Vanya erupts and his sadness overwhelms everything with brutal heartbreaking vigour. Wonderful! - steveatplays
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