Skip to main content

Vanya

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

The light is barely there at the opening of Sam Holcroft's twenty-first century adaptation of Anton Chekhov's slow-burning tip-toe through the seemingly wasted lives of several generations of country folk. As bookish Sonya's diligence at the accounts is disturbed by her uncle Vanya's barely contained frustration at the sheer mundanity of what his life has become, things are exacerbated even more as his city slicker brother in law and Sonya's father is doted on by his glamorous new wife Yelena, who Vanya is besotted with.

Only dashing doctor Astrov seems to have any kind of vision for the future, even as he's worshipped by Sonya. Up until he meets Yelena, Astrov's notions of biology are all in the abstract, as he talks at length of insects, pheromones and living wild and free in tribes. Everything else, it seems, is just the end of the line for a bunch of part-time would-be suicides.

Stripped to the bones of just these four characters, there is a raw emotional and erotic pulse to Holcroft's text. This is laid bare even more in Gareth Nicholls' unremittingly intimate production, the final show of the Citz's Circle Studio-based Up Close season which has gone some way to recapturing the libertine spirit of the old Close Theatre.

Like the venue, the play is all corners and extremities. Keith Fleming's pop-eyed Vanya, Helen Mackay's increasingly angry Sonya, Scarlett Mack's vivacious Yelena and Mark Wood's forensic Astrov negotiate their way through ninety minutes of increasingly intense duologues broken up by self-revelatory soliloquies. The end result is a self-lacerating circle of unrequited passion in an endless fog of ennui where sex and death are everything and nothing.

The Herald, November 5th 2015

ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…