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on 20 April 2013
I was privileged to have seen this production at the Chichester Theatre. I bought the VHS version when it appeared but gave it away because of the dreadful visual quality. Now I have the DVD and expected the picture to be a great improvement. Sadly this is not so. Surely the picture can be digitally improved. It certainly deserves it for it's a masterpiece of British theatre.
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on 20 August 2013
Redgrave is one of the strongest actors in this performance. He is able to be both natural and comical. And time Olivier's performance can be a little weak, personally I preferred Anthony Hopkins in this role. However, the rest of the cast is also very good. Joan Plowright executes the 'crush' (sorry for such a trivial word) perfectly.
Should you buy it? Yes. Why? Because it was and is an excellent piece of British theatre...and an excellent Russian play.
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on 4 September 2015
Such good acting from Olivier and Plowright they both bring their characters to life. Supporting cast very polished also. For anyone interested in classical plays and acting i highly recommend this DVD.

Carole Heath
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on 23 April 2013
Personally I love the whole atmosphere this gives you of being at the theatre.....acting is excellent, of course....a wonderful story brought to life by top class actors
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on 22 June 2015
This is a production preserved on film; the 1962 Chichester Festival Theatre production, directed by Laurence Olivier. There is no attempt to make the production like a 'film' so treat it as watching a production that you would never be able to see.

Uncle Vanya (Michael Redgrave) and his niece Sonia (Joan Plowright) sweat and labour on her father Sebryakov's (Max Adrian) country estate. Sonia is secretly in love with Astrov (Laurence Olivier), a doctor who vists the estate periodically. Everything hums along until Sebryakov, who lives in the city, visits with his pretty young wife Ilyena (Rosemary Harris). Vanya loves Ilyena; Ilyena loves Astrov; Astrov fancies Ilyena; Sonia loves Astrov. As is typical Chekhov, everybody is in love with the wrong person and their romantic illusions about characters' nobilities are slowly stripped away.

Olivier is charismatic as Astrov, and captures Astrov's conflict between his noble values and his weakness for a pretty girl. Unfortunately Sonia is decidedly plain; a character which could come across as feeble and self-pitying. However Plowright gives Sonia real nobility, as if she has reconciled herself to her plainness and decided to pour her energies elsewhere. The chemistry between Plowright and Olivier is excellent (well, they were newly married); instead of Astrov pitying Sonia, he does respect her and her insistence on the importance of labour matches his own passion for forestry. Rosemary Harris is suitably beautiful and languid as Ilyena, bored and lazy but in a glamorous way, appearing like a breath of fresh air. It's easy to see how Vanya and Astrov become taken with her.

As the title character, Michael Redgrave is excellent. Instead of being a pathetic character as he is sometimes portrayed, he is affable and good-hearted, with the same nobility that Sonia has. When Vanya talks of a time ten years ago in which he could have proposed to Ilyena, you actually feel that this could have been a possibility.

Despite the age of the production, it is directed in a way that feels modern. Everything is beautifully spoken but the actors breathe life into the characters rather than simply 'doing Chekhov'. Unusually for anything with Laurence Olivier in, this is an ensemble piece with each actor putting in a strong performance. As I'm sure some people thinking of buying this will be students, it is an excellent introduction to Chekhov.

The product: This is a bare-bones DVD (apart from some text- cast biographies, a synopsis and Chekhov biography) with no subtitles, although the audio is at a good level and the dialogue is spoken clearly. The picture quality is as expected for archive footage from 1963; there's been no attempt to clean it up but it's perfectly watchable. The cast profiles are interesting although the Sibyl Thorndike one has lost a few pages. The synopsis is basic as is the Chekhov biography. It won't enlighten the fan much but it would be handy for a student.
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on 4 April 2013
Wonderful performances by an all star cast of one of Chekhov's greatest plays. Each viewing reminds you of the great legacy of our English theatre.
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on 26 January 2016
If you like Uncle Vanya you'll love this.
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on 2 April 2015
An absorbing account of this play.
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on 20 January 2012
Wonderful performances by Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Michael Redgrave etc. of this iconic masterpiece. A must study for aspiring young actors.
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on 22 May 2015
Michael Redgrave is wonderful
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