Sonia Friedman Productions has announced that Ian Rickson’s highly-acclaimed production of Conor McPherson’s new adaptation of Uncle Vanya, forced to close in March when the West End went into lockdown, has been filmed on stage at the Harold Pinter Theatre in partnership with Angelica Films.
The new film version of the production will be shown in cinemas ahead of broadcast on the BBC (date to be confirmed) with further distribution details to be announced soon. This makes it the first UK stage production closed by the Coronavirus pandemic to have been filmed and produced for the screen.
Uncle Vanya was in the final weeks of its scheduled, sold-out run when lockdown occurred. The production had received Olivier nominations for Toby Jones (Best Actor Award), Ian Rickson (Best Director Award), Bruno Poet (Best Lighting Design Award) and Rae Smith (Best Set Design Award). Despite the entire team’s best efforts and wishes, the live production will not be able to return.
However, Sonia Friedman Productions and the BBC have partnered with Angelica Films to create a sumptuous re-interpretation of Rickson’s stage production, marrying the intimacy of film with the electricity of live performance.
Directed for screen by Ross MacGibbon, the film reunites nearly all of the original cast of the production. Only Ciarán Hinds was unavailable and his role has now been taken by Roger Allam.
Sonia Friedman (SFP) and Sally Angel (Angelica Films) said:
“Collaborating on filming Ian Rickson’s extraordinary production of Uncle Vanya has been a wonderful and inspiring experience. Despite all the challenges involved in filming this production (with no social distancing on screen), the results are testament to a brilliant and dedicated cast and crew led by Ian himself alongside Ross MacGibbon.
“It is such a privilege that we are able to bring this beautiful production to a wider audience after its run was cut so brutally short by the Covid-19 pandemic in March. We would also like to thank SFP’s loyal co-producers who have so generously allowed us to pursue this vision for the filmed production and enabled it to become a reality.”
The filming took place under strict Covid-19 secure, independently drawn up protocols, with the cast self-isolating and undergoing regular tests and the crew in masks, PPE and socially distancing throughout the process.
As live performances are unable to resume, if you are a current ticket holder, you do not need to do anything as your point of purchase will be in contact to arrange a credit note or refund.
Toby Jones (The Detectorists, The Birthday Party, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Richard Armitage (The Hobbit, The Stranger), Rosalind Eleazar (The Personal History of David Copperfield, Deep Water, The Starry Messenger), Aimee Lou Wood (Sex Education, Downstate), Anna Calder-Marshall (LOVE, Evening at the Talk House, Male of the Species), Dearbhla Molloy (The Ferryman, Dancing at Lughnasa, Juno and the Paycock), Peter Wight (The Birthday Party, Hamlet, The Red Lion) and Roger Allam (A Number, Endeavour, The Moderate Soprano, The Thick of It), all star in McPherson’s timely adaptation of Chekhov’s classic.
The production ran at the Harold Pinter Theatre from 14 January 2020 with an opening night on 23 January. Uncle Vanya is the 11th collaboration between Rickson and Sonia Friedman Productions, with previous productions including Rosmersholm, Jerusalem, The River, Betrayal and The Children’s Hour.