George Steiner wrote of Chekhov that his plays were "a musical score for speaking voice". This Vanya is just that. The performances here of Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave, Rosemary Harris, Joan Plowright, Max Adrian and Sybil Thorndike are operatic in range and emotion. The translation of Constance Garnett is no less important to success - perfect in its rhythm and concision.
This recording survives as a wonder of the 1960s Golden Age in British theatre. Yes, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson and Richard Burton are not in the cast but never mind; this production was immortal, one of the supreme nights in the theatre in our lifetimes.
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