Uncle Vanya, third impressions [could include spoilers] #richardarmitage

Tonight I sat in Stalls E 7. This was an excellent seat, but due to the proximity to the stage and the rake of the seats there are a few things that are hard to see. However, this might be the perfect seat from which to see the aborted Astrov / Yelena kiss in Act 3. As of now, Friday has one seat left (in the dress circle) and Saturday is completely sold out. Go UV team!

Trivia: they solved the problem with the candle at the curtain close (thankfully! I’ve been tense!) and I think it’s “Tübingen” and not “Thüringen” that Waffles / Telegin says in Act III (but he still mispronounces it). Mr. Armitage, Maletskoye may not be a real place, but even so, that is not how you would pronounce it. I also noticed that Astrov overhears quite a bit of Yelena’s monologue (about Sofia’s love for him, and Yelena’s awareness of Astrov’s interest) before he enters stage right. This gives a different spin to the scene, because his confusion over her revelations about Sonia makes more sense as he’s potentially expecting something else, and discussing the maps with her perhaps under the assumption that he does not need to speak. OTOH half the audience will not be able to see him eavesdropping. Yelena did not jump to straddle Astrov in the final act so Astrov just held her off her feet. I felt like the straddling was too much but just holding her in the air looked awkward (and uncomfortable). All in all the kisses in this play are not exactly satisfying (they’re not supposed to be, I assume).

Oh, and: it finally occurred to me that Vanya’s assault on the Professor may also have motivation lying in Yelena’s request to him to make sure that she and the Professor left that day — not just in his own self-interest. It’s hard to tell; he seems like an emotional hypochondriac. This staging of the play has surprisingly little sympathy for Vanya. The general envelope of the play is hard to make out.

General observation about the play: it’s really hard to predict (after seeing this three times now) when exactly the audience will laugh, or what they will think is funny. It has varied a lot. This was a more live audience than the previous night but not as live as the first preview.

Things I noticed about Armitage tonight — he started the play just a tad angrier / annoyed than he has the first two nights, and it does really give the scene more energy. Also, way more staring out from under his brow was noticeable, which increases his emotion and, in the scenes with Yelena, the very occasional glimmer of danger that he gives off. Obviously everyone has their directions but I would like to see more of this. There are only a few places in this play where I feel like Armitage is acting (vs reacting), whereas we see Toby Jones driving things onward all the time. To me, the slightly darker Astrov works better with all of the emotional things he has to say (especially now that Armitage seems firmly committed to his native baritone voice register again); it wards off the possibility of them seeming too emotional.

There are a few other things I’m chewing on but which I can’t write down quickly just now, esp on the “feelings” issue.

Stage Door — it was drizzling so many fewer “professionals” in the stage door line. There was a new security man (he was also at the door, checking bags) in a blue suit. He had a pin on his lapel with a red enamel background and “E R” in the foreground. As Armitage left the stage door, he grumbled, “raining, raining, raining” and walked to the end of the line again. Aside from this being extremely nice, it occurred to me that it’s more efficient as when he’s finished he’s back at the stage door (instead of somewhere on the street). He signed the copy of Chekhov’s plays I had in grad school. (I’d hoped to buy a copy of McPherson’s script while here but its publicatio is apparently delayed). I didn’t specify where but offered him the cover. He opened the book, and then didn’t sign the first page but the inside of the cover. Such respect for the written word, Mr. Armitage!

I’ve been attributing Armitage’s comfort at the SD (esp in comparison to LLL, where it often seemed like he was running away) to the fact that the play is much shorter and less strenuous (unlike TC, he doesn’t sit in stress positions or die every night). But it also occurred to me that that stuff he’s said about people not coming to see him but to experience feelings fits in here (also with the content of this play — in which he repeats at least three or four times that he can’t feel anything), i.e., we’re not there for him, we’re there for the feelings he can give us. Hmm. Sorry, Armitage, I’m pretty much at the stage door for you, although doubtless the rationale is different for every fan. Anyway, the much more relaxed atmosphere has me reconciled with the experience again — I found it somewhat disturbing in NYC in 2016.

~ by Servetus on January 17, 2020.

9 Responses to “Uncle Vanya, third impressions [could include spoilers] #richardarmitage”

  1. So exciting, even from a distance. I have to stop what I’m doing to read your accounts. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your comments. I wonder if I will recognize the play. It sounds different from the way I first saw it (100 years ago) But from what I read in your reports it shouldn’t be too distracting.
    3 Times. Such dedication! I am only going to see it once. Perhaps if it were Gary Oldman I would. Though I doubt my partner would be happy about it. And who would go with me? Or do you go alone?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for noting down your observations of the changes in the play, Serv. From where I was sitting on Tuesday, I never saw when Astrov was on the stage right, and that really does make a change, puts a different spin on things, especially in the scene where Yelena and Sonya talk.
    Also very interesting comment re. SD and “feeling”! Btw, were the barriers up now?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had forgotten the vicarious pleasure I get from reading other peoples accounts of SD.

    Thank you!


  5. Thanks for the impressions, Serv! And it’s good to hear he’s relaxed at the SD again. Wondering: did other actors come out as well? I’m hoping to see Ciaran Hinds and Toby Jones as well when I go.


  6. My time at the SD is strictly controlled by the train schedule lol
    It would be nice to get TJ and CH autograph but I think they are in so many plays that they may not view the SD in quite the same way as Armitage does.


  7. I have enjoyed reading your reviews, particularly as I am unlikely to see the play. Interesting observation you made about how you felt RA was spending most of the play “reacting” whereas Toby Jones drove the play onwards. Was this down to their respective characters? Or maybe different acting styles?


  8. I have tickets to M7 in February, so might get the same nice view as you did now. But as I will stay in London longer, I am looking at cheaper tickets for the next day, to get another view from the other side 🙂


  9. […] has already been to 3 performances of Uncle Vanya, she wrote about them here, here and here. Guylty has written about stage door experiences here and here. There has been some sharing on […]


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