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Review: Uncle Vanya- Theatr Clwyd

It was another trip back to Theatr Clwyd this week to watch Peter Gill’s new version of the Chekov classic, Uncle Vanya.

By Kara Beth Davies, Egwyl Editor |@Kara_Davies

A new version by Peter Gill and directed by Tamara Harvey,  this production truly does capture that Russian feel from the moment you step foot into the Emlyn Williams Theatre. A minimal, yet effective, set will be there to greet you, along with the 360 degree seeting, so all angles are covered, you can see everything, which is what I love about this venue, it’s intimate, exactly what’s needed for this production. Although it’s a Russian play told trough the English language, it sticks to the traditions of its roots- vodka was mentioned in no less than 30 seconds into the first act!

Both set and costume designs look rather elegant, fitting for the play and the mix of the talented cast members. I love the juxtaposition of social class represented through the costumes. Every piece of clothing and every prop, big or small, all had a fundamental place in the jigsaw of this comedic drama.

Vanya (Jamie Ballard) spends majority of his time bathing in self pity, it’s only in the latter stages he really starts to stand up for his beliefs and values. Vanya loves a drink and very much the centre of comedy and those witty one liners. There is one element of Vanya that I just adore, that’s his love for his family, especially for his niece, Sonya. They share such a beautiful moment together, bonded from the loss of Vanya’s sister, who was also Sonya’s mother. Ballard is an incredible Vanya and lives up to the role and expectations.


Photography: The Other Richard

Astrov (Oliver Dimsdale), on the other hand, is the complete antithesis to Vanya. He’s a doctor, respected and adored by the female characters (dressed in a smart suit, I can see why). He does share a fantastic drunken scene singing alongside Vanya and Telyegin (Brendan Charleson)! Alcohol seems to solve multiple problems!


Photography: The Other Richard

One of the character’s to fall for Astrov’s charm is Elena (Shanaya Rafaat). She tries to resist her temptations because of her marriage to Serebryakov (Martin Turner), the age gap being the biggest difference between them. With her boring marriage at a stand still, Astrov seems to be what she needs. Elena is a very refined character, stubborn at times, but she does act upon her feelings for the doctor.

It was Rosie Sheehy’s portrayal of Sonya that stole the show. She plays the character with so much passion and drama, such a fantastic Welsh actress. Sonya struggles with self confidence and has a low opinion of herself, totally relatable. “It’s terrible to be plain,” she says, after falling head over heals for Astrov, she’s worried about being rejected by him. I was seriously impressed by Sheehy’s acting capabilities and commitment to the role.


Photography: The Other Richard

Uncle Vanya is dramatic, funny and tests relationships from start to finish, I truly enjoyed it, there are too many factors to talk about, you need to see it for yourself! The production is running at Theatr Clwyd until October 14, tickets and more information can be found here.



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