Watching a show from an established deceased playwright, Chekhov, from another century, another country with outdated references and bringing it into the 21st century without losing its integrity is a hard task but the Tales Retold production of Uncle Vanya manages this brilliantly.
We are introduced into the world via Doctor Astrov, portrayed by DK Ugonna and are immediately immersed. The Doctor, concerned only with his trees and his world, the loving Nanny, providing everyone coffee and vodka shots and Uncle Vanya, jovial despite clearly feeling thwarted. Through them we learn more the characters we are later introduced to, the beautiful and entrancing Yelena, the demanding Derebryakov, dutiful Sonya. It is this excellent establishment and portrayal of deeply complex characters that carries the audience through the acts. The strength of the emotion and vulnerability conveyed is such that none of the action is lost regardless of which of the three sides facing the stage that you sit on.
The impact of the climax of the play is lost but is due more to the changes in culture between 19th century Russia and our present day. Despite this the years of duty and dedication and thwarted passion come alive as themes felt throughout the play which is passed on as a parting feeling to the audience. You leave the show on a sombre note, very aware of how alive you are and with an urge to live life fully for yourself.