Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Uncle Vanya at the Gate

The Gate is getting a bit too cosy and staid in its choice of plays. It's all a bit luvvies cosying up to the comfortable chattering classes. Don't rock the boat dear. Uncle Vanya was a very conventional choice for the Theatre Festival - even with the Brian Friel imprimatur. There's something relentlessly middle-class about Chekov. There always seems to be a lot of guff about very little in the drawing rooms of polite society. And there's also something safe about the concerns of his plays. You can argue that Uncle Vanya is about wasted lifes and stifled impulses. However, I'm not sure I care enough to engage with any of the characters. Vanya is ridiculous, Astrov is a jaded cliche, Sonia is everyspinster, the professor is a pompous fool, his gorgeous wife Yelena is a cipher and don't get me started on the character that Tom Hickey hammed up - Termagin or something like that.

The problem for me is the lack of drama. Even Vanya's half-baked attempt on the professor's life seems unlikely and the lack of reaction of all concerned is amazing and unconvincing. Friel bolts on some contemporary concerns anout the environment and lively ups the language but it's a bland night at the theatre. Professional and polished of course. A good cast wasted.