Review: Uncle Vanya

On Thursday night we went to see the Penobscot Theatre perform Uncle Vanya. I found it a rather enjoyable experience.

There were, naturally, some things I could complain about. The Theatre for some reason deemed it necessary to drop the s-bomb a few times, and, at one point, had the physician and Vanya flipping each other off. I feel pretty confident in assuming that was not in the original translation, but there it was anyway.

Krissy was somewhat disappointed that nothing…happened. I mean, things happened, the entire play had things happening left and right, but nothing happened. It wasn’t a comedy, though there were funny parts. It wasn’t a tragedy, though there were, in my mind, tragic parts. It just was. It was merely the cross-section of the lives of one family over 100 years ago.

For me, that was enough. A cross-section of people’s lives, funny parts here, tragic parts there, historical parts in the middle, that’s all it was, and it kept me entertained for a couple of hours. The physician was a great actor and emoter. The young daughter, in love with him, was stellar. But it was probably Vanya I could relate most to, which is why, I assume, the play was named after him.

Vanya is a sort of everyman underdog. Vanya spends his entire life toiling for the sake of others, even to the expense of his own intellect. He could have been somebody. He could have made something for himself in life. He had the brains; he had the work ethic. Unfortunately, he was caught up in trying to help other people to the extent that there was nothing left to give for himself.

Vanya had hopes, dreams, and love. Unfortunately, again, that love was another man’s wife. Vanya didn’t have the guts, or was too polite, to force his brother-in-law’s second wife to see how miserable she was in life and how much she would like a man such as himself. His only courage came when he was under the influence, which is truly not impressive to a lady in the least bit. Therefore, Vanya saw himself always in the shadow of not only his brother-in-law, but also his best friend, the physician. The physician was the man who broke Vanya’s love out of her shell, kissing her until she acquiesced to her desires.

Though I find the entire theme of men fighting over another man’s wife to be extremely distasteful, I must admit to feeling kinship with the characters. Not only the character of Vanya, but the character of the young daughter as well, who never has her infatuation of the physician returned to her in even the slightest regard. The parts were well played, even the smallest part of the nanny, causing me to enjoy the experience overall.

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