Kassianni Austen is one of the early career professionals to join Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre for their staging of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya

Kassianni Austen is one of the early career professionals to join Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre for their staging of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya

Blue Bridge takes on Chekhov tale

Chekhov’s sardonic sense of humour has secured the 19th-century piece among favourites

During the opening week of Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre’s Uncle Vanya, the director posed a question aimed at anyone unsure of how to spend their entertainment budget.

“It’s a great acting company and a great play. How could you go wrong?”

Brian Richmond doesn’t downplay his fandom for Anton Chekhov, the Russian playwright behind the tragicomedy, with an “eerily contemporary sensibility as he dissects the hopes, loves and fears of his exquisitely drawn characters with the precision of a pathologist’s scalpel,” he said.

“I’ve directed this play three times,” said Richmond, also the company’s artistic director. “I love this play.”

Chekhov’s sardonic sense of humour has secured the 19th-century piece among favourites to teach at the University of Victoria.

“It was a very rich time period intellectually and in terms of the arts in Russia. Some of the world’s most brilliant writers and composers and artists came out of this time period. It was an extraordinarily intense period, characterized by the intellectuals and the artists discontent with the social structure around them.”

Blue Bridge’s mandate is to match early career professionals with more experienced performers. Among the company’s rising stars in Uncle Vanya are Nathan Brown a set and costume designer who came to Blue Bridge following undergrad at the University of Victoria and a recent design program at the University of Alberta; actress and Rifflandia co-founder Kassianni Austen, a new graduate of New York’s Columbia University; Blue Bridge newcomer Duncan Ollerenshaw – Mr. Toole on AMC’s Hell on Wheels; and Stratford Festival vet Amanda Lisman take on lead roles in the classic. Jacob Richmond, Chris Britton, Brian Linds, Iris MacGregor-Bannerman, Naomi Simpson and Trevor Hinton round out the cast.

“Blue Bridge has built its reputation on its dramas, so this is my attempt to give the audience a very, very strong drama,” Richmond said.

Uncle Vanya runs through June 16. Contact the McPherson Playhouse box office at 250-386-6121 or rmts.bc.ca for tickets and showtimes.

 

nnorth@saanichnews.com