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Uncle Vanya at the St James Theatre Credit: Simon Annand

The Hot Ticket: Uncle Vanya

Suggest Chekhov as a topic of conversation at a dinner party and you’ll no doubt have fans and foes about you. Notoriously difficult to digest and centred around woeful themes, that didn’t stop award-winning playwright Anya Reiss taking on the challenge of adapting three of the Russian author’s works for a new audience; Uncle Vanya, showing at the St. James Theatre, being the last in the series.

Swapping early 19th Century Russia for modern day Yorkshire, Reiss’ Uncle Vanya - produced by Emily Dobbs and directed by Russell Bolam – tells the story of the respected professor returning to his farmland with beautiful new wife in tow, only to turn the lives of those that have managed the farm upside down, but brings it right up to date with fluid prose and self-deprecating wit.

Often sprawled about a canny set, the cast, led by John Hannah [Four Weddings and a Funeral/Sliding Doors], proves utterly compelling, each member navigating their own way through the spectrum of human emotions that the play entails.

Has Reiss written in a happy ending? No; but she may well tip the foe/fan balance in Chekhov’s favour.

Uncle Vanya runs until Saturday 8th November at the St. James Theatre, London.

stjamestheatre.co.uk

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