Review: Uncle Vanya – Open Space Theatre, north Suffolk tour

Mark Burridge as Dr Astrov and Emma Martin (with blonde hair) as Yeliena

Mark Burridge as Dr Astrov and Emma Martin (with blonde hair) as Yeliena - Credit: cont

With its focus on the self-worth, the work ethic, and ecological disaster, Chekov’s Uncle Vanya has become spookily prescient. On the opening night of their tour, the cast of the Open Space Theatre jumped headlong into this maelstrom of ideas with their customary commitment, offering up a classic Chekov primer, done straight, with a genuine respect for the text.

Drenched in misery and alcohol, Uncle Vanya is tragic, but it is also absurd, and David Green’s direction tackled this dichotomy head on in a handsomely dressed production with some fine ensemble work from its hard working cast. Tim Hall comfortably bore the mammoth role of Uncle Vanya on his broad shoulders, while Cathy Gill was every bit as good as his touchingly gauche niece. Of particular note was Emma Martin, whose acting skills demonstrably grow with each production she appears in.

The pace could do with cranking up a notch, and the blend of comedy and tragedy needs clearer delineation, but all this will come as the actors work things through in front of audience. Fundamentally, it is the ambition of taking on such a challenging play that should be acknowledged, and then should be applauded.

David Vass


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