July 23, 2012
SYDNEY Theatre Company’s production of Uncle Vanya has received glowing reviews following its debut at the Lincoln Centre in New York over the weekend.
American critics have heaped praise on the play and its Australian cast, which includes Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh, Hugo Weaving, Jacki Weaver and John Bell.
New York Times theatre writer Ben Brantley said: “Uncle Vanya has been adapted by Andrew Upton (Ms Blanchett’s husband, and co-artistic director at the Sydney Theatre Company) into a gritty, spontaneous-sounding vernacular.”
He said Hungarian director Tamas Ascher has “delivered what may be the most profoundly physical, and physically profound, interpretation ever of this 1897 play.”
The reworked Anton Chekov classic was widely praised during its season at Sydney in 2010 and during a run at Washington’s Kennedy Center in August last year.
It was snapped up by Lincoln Center Festival chief Nigel Redden following the success of another STC production in the US, A Streetcar Named Desire, which also starred Blanchett and Joel Edgerton.
Andy Popst, from the influential website Theater Mania, said audiences with any preconceptions about Chekov would be in for a shock.
He wrote: “Thanks to an exceptional company, headed by Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh, this show simply stuns from beginning to end as this bittersweet comedy, intriguingly reset in what seems to be 1950s Russia, unfolds.”
Jeremy Gerard, the chief US drama critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News, gave Uncle Vanya a rating of four stars, or in other words “superb”.