Chekhov's tragicomedy, replete with the kinds of characters we have come to know as "Chekhovian," incorporates unrequited loves and a murder plot while exploring the social roles of women and the notion of progress. Curt Columbus's splendid new translation and adaptation underscores the contemporary relevance of this prophetic play.
So, what happens in Uncle Vanya? Not much; just life, played out over four acts. There are rich people, and there are people who work for the rich people, whom the rich people don't really care about. There is a gun fired in anger and desperation, but there aren't any bodies to carry off stage. There are men making fools of themselves over women. There are those who accept their fates and wait for their rewards in heaven, and there are others who don't care one way or another. There is a character whose name is in lights as the title, but he doesn't add up to all that much. Chekhov's play moves so languidly that, without a vibrant cast, an understanding director, and a lively translation, it stands the chance of passing under the radar of the average audience. Columbus's reworking of the script (done for Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company) aims at accessibility, replacing the "outdated colloquialisms" and "brittle prose" of earlier translations. And, for the most part, it's OK. It's not revelatory or revolutionary, but it stands as good a chance as any of getting the audience to come back after intermission. Recommended for collections in need of a new copy of this work. Larry Schwartz, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Moorhead Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.20 (d)
Meet the Author
Anya Reiss completed the Young Writers Programme at the Royal Court. Her first play, Spur of the Moment, premiered at the Royal Court in July 2010, winning her the award for Most Promising Playwright at both the Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards, and also the TMA Theatre Award for Best New Play. Her second play, The Acid Test, also opened at the Royal Court in 2011, and was a box office sell-out earning rave reviews. She also contributed to the Bush Theatre’s Sixty-Six Books (2011), writing a response to a chapter of the King James Bible. Her adaptations of The Seagull (Southwark Playhouse, 2013), Spring Awakening (Headlong, 2014), and Three Sisters are also published by Oberon Books.