Browse Updates

Uncle Vanya

Production dates: August 19, 1992 - September 26, 1992
Venue: The Sydney Theatre Company
Directed by: Neil Armfield
Literature: Anton Chekhov
Costume Design: Jennie Tate
Set Design: Brian Thomson

Chekhov’s tragicomedy, replete with the kinds of characters we have come to know as Chekhovian, incorporates unrequited loves and a murder plot while exploring the social roles of women and the notion of progress. In “Uncle Vanya”, the family lives in a country home, working all their hours to support their favoured ‘son in law’, who is called Serebryakov, the widower of the family’s daughter. Vanya, Sonya (Toni Collette), Mother and the old family nurse live in the countryside ekeing out an existence and sending the rest to their son in law in the city. When the son in law comes to visit, he brings his new wife with him Helena, a beautiful but insipid woman who is many years his junior.

Cast & Characters

Geoffrey Rush (Astrov), Toni Collette (Sonya), Helen Buday (Yelena), Peter Carroll (Vanya), Max Cullen (Waffle), Melissa Jaffer, Warren Mitchell, Colin Moody, Barbara Henry (Marina)

Production Notes

When talking about the production during an interview with Vogue Magazine in 1998, Toni Collette said: “I asked Neil Armfield why he wanted me and he said, ‘because of your teeth’, which I found really funny.”.


The Sydney Morning Herald, Bob Evans (August 21, 1992)
Armfield’s production is a mixture of much that is very good and a little that is truly great, including Jenny Tate’s costumes which, in both their simplicity and complexity, contribute to and comment on the characters. Geoffrey Rush is wonderful as Astrov, glowing from a flushed vodka haze into a passion that threatens to burn through his pragmatic veneer. So is Toni Collette, investing plain Sonya with a bounce and an earthiness that transmutes through gried into resolution and compassion, and Max Mullen as Waffle, getting gentle laughs through a self-effacing, rustic dignity.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Ken Healy (August 22, 1992)
The play, like all Chekhov, is intensely moral. But it treats serious subjects like idleness versus the work ethic, natural justice, probity, with such acute irony that laughter flows. In this production there is more overt expression of conflict than one normally encounters in Chekhov. Toni Collette’s Sonia, hopeslessly in love with Astrov, is a strong farm manager, physically almost peasant-like in contrast to the child-bride Yelyena.

Awards & Nominations

  Sydney Critics Circle Award – Best Newcomer