By KIM HWANG
MINNEAPOLIS — “Uncle Vanya”, the classic play written by Anton Checkov, and brought to the Guthrie stage by director Joe Dowling, premiered on Sept. 14, 2013.
The brochure vividly displays bright red roses, robustly growing on a tree. I interpreted the significance of the bold visual image to mean, “It’s important to stop and smell the roses.”
The audience laughed as character’s sarcasm and wit, paradoxically displayed strong messages of regret, envy and loss. Two brothers, both considered highly successful professionals of their time were rarely happy or satisfied.
The lives they led weren’t at all what they had dreamed about. The play revolved around competition and envy eating them alive. Jealousy consumed them and they were chronically confused about why they didn’t feel at peace or successful.
Trenched in ill feelings towards one another, the brothers spent their lives in conflict. Meanwhile, the women in the play were sentenced to roles in which their characters main focus was to completely fill up the emotional voids of the men that grew each day.
Each woman, with unique and almost opposite personalities spent their lives worshipping the two men and yearning for affection in return. Love wasn’t reciprocal. Consequently, each and every character was depressed and dissatisfied. It certainly reminded me that living a vapid life without meaning, is gender neutral.
The underlying theme of the play, Uncle Vanya, revealed that fear, along with a shallow obsession with oneself obscures true happiness. Deep regret conveyed who they wished they were, versus what was positively abundant in both of their lives.
The characters lives also revealed a sad message, which communicated that solely relying on another person for happiness, would likely result in living a life unfulfilled. Characters in the play were driven by complex feelings, thoughts and ideas about how life should unfold, which haunted them. In the end, it kept them from living. They never really stopped to smell the roses.