The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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‘Uncle Vanya’ a classic tale of love

“Uncle Vanya” could be renamed “The Summer of Idleness.” After all, the play takes place over the course of one summer in Russia in 1896 where nothing is accomplished except the furthering of heartache.

 “Uncle Vanya” is one of Anton Chekov’s many plays that capture the scene of Russia – cold winters, the dreary life, the pointlessness of it all.

Currently in production in the Greer Garson Theatre, “Uncle Vanya” is the classic tale of love, beauty and the struggle of existence presented in a manner that is gripping and heart-wrenching.

The cast, made up primarily of graduate students, is a mixture of distinct voices and styles that director Michael Connolly is able to blend together to create a remarkably strong show. From the minute the play opens, Ricco Fajardo lures the audience in with his portrayal of Mikhail Lvovich Astrov, the physician who takes care of the professor.

But Fajardo only prepares the stage for what is to follow, a cast filled with some of Meadows’ finest performers.

Teddy Spencer takes the title role whose full name is Ivan Petrovich Voinitsky, referred to endearingly as Uncle Vanya by his niece Sonya (Vanessa Gibens), the daughter of his sister, the professor’s first wife.

Both Gibens and Spencer deliver noteworthy performances. Spencer is a hopeless drunk, who is in love with the professor’s wife, Yelena Andreevna (Jamie Rezanour). He is so hopeless, in fact, that he can not even carry out the homicide he so desperately wishes to commit in the final act.

Gibens is equal parts adorable and defeated as Sonya. The young girl seems to be the only thing keeping the family together, yet this job proves difficult for even her committed exuberance.

Extracting laughs from a script that does everything it can to remove the false glimmer of hope from this Russian backdrop creates a difficult task to undertake but one Cliff Miller manages to accomplish every time he is on stage.

Miller’s complete embodiment of the retired professor Alexksandr Vladimirovich Serebryakov is a captivating performance to watch. His slightest flick of the hand seems intentional and he has the distinct ability to speak his lines in such a way that they elucidate laughs without losing their pertinence.

The astute treatment of this play is not lost in a single element, from Rachel Finn’s functional yet melancholy set to Jason Biggs’ music arrangements.

“Uncle Vanya” runs in the Greer Garson Theatre through Sunday. For more information, visit meadows.smu.edu.

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