From Russia with Love: Chekhov’s tragicomedy Uncle Vanya at The Cultch

Part of the Uncle Vanya cast: Anthony F. Ingram, Luisa Jojic, Robert Moloney. Photo Credit: Tim Matheson

Part of the Uncle Vanya cast: Anthony F. Ingram, Luisa Jojic, Robert Moloney. Photo Credit: Tim Matheson

It’s a tale of two brothers, a country doctor and their mutual admiration of one woman. Add a bit of alcohol, lust and yet another woman and you have a small snapshot of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya staged by Blackbird Theatre at The Cultch December 26 – January 18th.

Originally penned by Russian doctor and playwright Chekhov in 1897, Uncle Vanya takes place in late 19th century Russia and tells the tale of how the rambling country estate is turned upside down when main character Uncle Vanya plays host to his brother-in-law and new, beautiful wife.

“Anton Chekov’s writing is considered by many to be the pinnacle of modern dramatic art – so it is with great pleasure and high expectation that we approach this work,” says John Wright, Artistic Director of Blackbird Theatre.  

The tragicomedy features an ensemble cast with local Stratford Festival/Bard on the Beach veteran Anthony F. Ingram as Uncle Vanya, Luisa Jojic as Yelena and Robert Moloney as Astorov, Uncle Vanya’s neighbour and the local, rural doctor.

“The cast is to die for. The play requires very generous acting and a great deal of skill when it comes to meshing performances. The effect of the play is rather impressionistic,” explains Wright. “There are not a great deal of theatrics although somebody gets shot at it.”

Uncle Vanya received its Moscow première in 1899 in a production by the Moscow Art Theatre, under the direction of Konstantin Stanislavski. The Vancouver version of Uncle Vanya was prepared from a literal translation by UBC Russian scholar Peter Petro.

There’s even a bit of green-hued ethos to Blackbird’s version of Uncle Vanya. According to Wright, Chekhov was an early adopter of environmental and ecological values and it shows through in previous, longer versions of the play. As a nod to Chekhov’s critiques of deforestation in Russia, Blackbird will plant one tree for every ticket sold to Uncle Vanya via local non-profit Trees for the Future.

Uncle Vanya plays December 26 – January 18. Tickets can be purchased here.

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