Chekov’s “Uncle Vanya” Revived (Chicago Tribune 1930)

Chicago Tribune – Sunday, April 27, 1930 – Page 105

Chekov’s “Uncle Vanya” Revived

Jed Harris, the still youthful producer who grew disgusted with the theater that made him upwards of a million dollars with such productions as “Broadway,” “Coquette,” “The Front Page,” and “The Royal Family,” came back to Broadway last week to revive Chekov’s “Uncle Vanya,” and later to inject himself into a fight against the managers who are seeking a solution of the ticket speculator business.

Theater producer Jed Harris

So far as the Chekov revival is concerned, it has two definite features of interest: First, it is one of the few professionally competent performances American actors have given of a Russian drama, and second, it brings the beautiful and wraith – like Lillian Gish back to the living theater after nearly twenty years absence in the movies.

The play is another of those placid, leisurely studies of character and life’s frustrations in which the older Russians specialized. Uncle Vanya of the title, is a gentle soul who has given up his life to the management of his family estate that Alexandria, a pompous mollusk who has married his sister and hypnotized the family by an assumption of learning and importance, may take his lazy ease.

Injury is added to imposition when, being set free by the death of his wife, Alexandria marries the woman Vanya loves. Goaded beyond his strength, Vanya finally turns on his windy tormentor and seeks to kill him. Even in this laudable endeavor he is thwarted, missing the target twice. Then, with the departure of the hated one and his young wife, life resumes its normal way on the estate and Vanya goes back to the unhappy grind.

Miss Lillian Gish as Helena in Jed Harris’ “Uncle Vanya”

Miss Gish is a rarely fascinating personality in the theater, moving consciously about; falling into unconsciously graceful poses; speaking in a gentle voice with modest expression; suggesting a little girl playing most intelligently at acting, but still a little girl.

As to the managers and speculators, Mr. Harris insists a little violently that the managers, who have organized a theater league to curb speculators, are all wrong, even a little imbecilic. They can never hope to control speculators, he says, even with former Gov. Al Smith as their Will Hays. He threatens to do something about it.

Uncle Vanya – Photo Gallery

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