(“Uncle Vanyo“ – Chekhov; director, Grigor Antonov; production, Theater Vazrajdane – Sofia, performed atSkupiFestival – 2019)

Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanja” anthology this time is offered by director Grigor Antonov and the acting ensemble of the Sofia Theater “Vazrajdane” in a chamber version of the play. Director Antonov strives in a small space to thicken all the developments in this moving Chekhov comedy.From the very beginning of the musical background (Hristo Namliev), it suggests that this is a anxious and distressing situation in which Chekhov’s characters will be “caught”. In doing so, Antonov avoids big exaltations and a broad plan of transparent action, but leaves things to “… run their course” (Beckett).In this context he builds a representation of subtle and painful but slow and almost depressing movements of the protagonists.

Each one of them prepares for a “storm”, as is the case with the hint outside. So, in a small, chamber space, the image of states and atmosphere is shaped, a space that is filled with emotions and passions that intersect with each other, intertwine. Several points in this set are dominant. These are the sleepiness and lethargy of the Russian province of the late 19th century, the breakthrough of Astrov’s intellectual awareness and his ecological lamentations, and finally there are the inevitable love clashes, once again confirming Chekhov’s constant, that everyone is in love, but often in the wrong one. So only the longing for unfulfilled or lost love remains, but also the longing for a better life, even if it was in the “other world” (it’s beautifully captured through the final scene between Sonja and Wojnicki-Uncle Vanyo!)

The Sofia Dramatic Ensemble offers a solid, strictly “dosed” creation of characters who say more with their silence than with their speech, thus keeping the viewers’ attention and extending sympathy for their unhappy characters. Although in the camera / limited space, the performance sounds powerful and effective. Otherwise, their contribution to this dubious division is made by the actors, Svejen Mladenov, Robert Janakiev, Jana Rasheva, Viktorija Nikolova, Georgi Zlatarev, Ivet Radulova, Gergana Kofardzieva, Bojan Mladenov and Jordan Rusin…

-Todor Kuzmanov