Favorite Moment: Uncle Vanya

Soho Rep

Soho Rep’s star-laden staging of Uncle Vanya is already sold out—sorry, guys—so this edition of “Favorite Moment” will have to take the place of actual theatergoing for you ticketless chumps out there.

Towards the end of the play’s second act, step-relations Yelena (Maria Dizzia) and Sonya (Merritt Weaver) reconnect after years of detachment and mistrust. They share a drink and gossip over the midnight oil, and once they’ve exposed their insecurities and desires, finally come to see each other as sisters in angst. By sharing their hearts, everything feels renewed and possible, and Yelena wants to celebrate with music, even though it’s been years since she’s tickled her piano’s ivories.

So Sonya rushes out in excitement to ask permission of her father (it’s the middle of the night and he isn’t well). Several expectant seconds pass.

But when Sonya reenters the room, all hope deflates: “He said no,” she exhales in sadness.

With that, not only does the possibility of music disappear, all hope of escape, beauty, and redemption evaporates, too. It’s a gorgeously awful moment of heartbreak, and in this Sam Gold production, it’s as devastating as ever.

Uncle Vanya
by Anton Chekhov
at Soho Rep
directed by Sam Gold

Pictured: Maria Dizzia and Michael Shannon. Photo by Sara Krulwich



  1. Great piece– also loved your Times, pre-opening writeup… the mumblecorp comparison is interesting, and very much agreed that the setting was often unclear (and what was that small trapdoor supposed to be?) Still, I very much felt the pathos of the material and loved being so close to the action.

    I would’ve been curious to see Target Margin’s–you’re right, they probably did want you to leave feeling cold. And, of course, Cate Blanchett’s will be interesting.

  2. That lack of specificity about where we were was one of my problems:

  3. Agreed, that’s one of the best moments in any Chekhov play, or any play. And it registered pretty well in this otherwise super-tedious “Vanya.” I didn’t think I could be bored by these actors doing Chekhov, but alas, I very often was. (And what the hell happened to the furniture in Act Two? Was the point of the actors sprawling across the floor to make them as uncomfortable as we in our seats were? Just one of many missteps.)

    • Thanks for the comment, Rob! I actually loved the play, though Chekhov normally isn’t my thing. And didn’t we move locales for Act Two– Act One was outdoors, right? Not sure.

... Any thoughts?... C'mon!

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