Sunday, 9 December 2012


Last night I laughed. Not a belly cackle, but a cynical smile.  I went to see Uncle Vanya a renowned Russian tragedy/comedy at the Vaudeville Theatre. A pretty original theatre in the Strand.  Uncle Vanya by Anton Chehov  means so much to me. You have to listen carefully and be in a good mood.  It is both depressing and uplifting. Uplifting because you realise that people for many many years have been thinking the same way.  The raison d'être, worries us all but here the conclusions are clear. "A study of the Family" is how I would describe it.  The dysfunctional yet normal way of living. The clever member of the family visiting his very normal and ordinary relatives in the country, with a new ravishing wife. Stirring everybody up, moaning about everything, his wife falls in love, and leaves a tired mess. Sam West plays the handsome Dr Astrov, Anna Friel as Yelena, the wife of the elderly  visiting philosopher. The translation by Christopher Hampton.
What I liked about it, is the scene about trees. The scene where Dr Astrov  who believes in protecting the trees,  plants for his future, and for the generations ahead. He educates Yelena about their necessity. Yelena, who thinks she is in love with him, hardly listens,  and a sexual tension should be evident. There was something interesting about Anna Friel's performance. She is very attractive, but has the feel of English hardiness about her.  A no nonsense approach. I had always thought Yelena to be more demure, rather aloof and grand. I thought it  was more of a shock to her that she had fallen in love with Astrov?.  Anna played it, as if she always left a mess, that she had been there before. Perhaps I am wrong?  The thing about the "English" girl is that we are not naturally elegant.  The Russians can be.  I watch my pretty English friends and they don't walk well. I notice it in my film I am making. I try to walk well, my top half looks elegant, but I am not, it is a fight I have. Anna is the same. She is earthy. We are like Welsh cobs to a thoroughbred. I am probably wrong, I just didn't listen hard enough in my lessons to Mr Tabakov. Of course the lessons were translated. Perhaps the translation is earthier, but wittier, than the one I studied?. Directed by Lindsay Posner, it anyway has a strong cast, worth seeing if you have the will for Chekhov.

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