Jim Lichtscheidl and Andrew Weems in Uncle Vanya. Photo by Joan Marcus, courtesy Guthrie Theater.
Why a version of Chekhov’s 1897 Uncle Vanya by the Irish playwright Brian Friel? First, the play’s director, Joe Dowling, acknowledges Friel (1929-) as his greatest mentor. Dowling is one of the few masterly directors of Friel’s canon. He first directed the world premiere of Living Quarters at the Abbey Theatre (Ireland’s National Theatre) in Dublin in 1977, but has always stated that the production of Philadelphia, Here I Come! presented at the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1964 made him commit to theater as a career. Friel, in turn, was first fully immersed in the comic pathos of Chekhov when he observed Tyrone Guthrie’s (1900-1971) rehearsal of The Three Sisters in the inaugural season of the Guthrie Theater in 1963.MORE »