Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

Uncle Vanya

By Anton Chekhov

Uncle Vanya at Strawdog Theatre
Uncle Vanya at Strawdog Theatre

Translated by Curt Columbus

Directed by Kimberly Senior

At Strawdog Theatre

Strawdog’s Uncle Vanya captures the melancholy of  wasted lives

Strawdog Theatre, under the intelligent direction by Kimberly Senior, has a well acted and sincere production of Chekhov’s 1899 tragicomedy, Uncle Vanya. Tom Burch’s impressively opulent glass cased set aptly depicts an upper class Russian dacha.  The cast of nine talents most effectively present Chekhov’s tragicomedy  translated by Curt Columbus.

Uncle Vanya at Strawdog Theatre

Uncle Vanya (in a nicely sardonic turn by Tom Hickey) laments his ‘wasted 25 years’ running thee family’s estate. He falls in love with his retired professor brother, Serebryakov’s (Tim Curtis) second wife, Yelena (Shannon Hoag). Yelena through boredom herself flirts with Vaanya and she tries to help Sonya (Michaela Petro) find out if the doctor Astrov (Kyle Hamman) has any interest in Sonya.

Uncle Vanya at Strawdog Theatre

Chekhov has given Astrov interest in political and environmental issues as Astrov paints maps depicting  the deforestation of Russia by the peasants resulting in loss of wild life and permanently altering the land and the rivers.

Columbus’ translation is a smoldering affair that gets to the heart of the lust, boredom and hopelessness of Russian gentry country life in the 1890’s. As each character examines their lives, they question their purpose and the choices they have made. We empathize and relate to them. The comic bungled resolution Vanya attempts underscores his life.

I particularly enjoyed the work of Tom Hickey, Shannon Hoag and Kyle Hamman.  This cast breaths life into Chekhov’s classic. Strawdog Theatre has a fine production that you’ll enjoy.


Tom Williams

Jeff Recommended

At Strawdog Theatre, 3828 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL, call 773-528-9698,, tickets $20 – $15 students/seniors, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 & 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through March 27, 2010

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