The pair chatted to Emma Clarendon about starring in Uncle Vanya at the Hope Theatre.

Hi, thank you very much for talking to me. What can people expect from this production of Uncle Vanya?

Gilly: An abridged version of one hour and twenty minutes. Fresh and spoken as by an English family but still in the early 1900’s. They will recognise some of their own family dynamics and what can happen when there isn’t enough money and how it can be soul destroying when all you have worked for is taken away. And what its like to feel unrequited love.

What was it that made you want to be part of this production?

Gilly: Its such an iconic play in our theatre cannon and having never done it I jumped at the chance. Also I wanted to work with Tales Retold as they have done marvellous theatre to date.

Rory: I’m 71 and it is absolutely wonderful to still be working a job I have been doing for 40 years.

Could you tell me a bit more about your characters and what they are like to play?

Gilly: I play Marina the family housekeeper and nanny. She has been with the family for years. She has a strong belief in God and is no nonsense, runs a tight ship with energy and panache. She is also funny but doesn’t know it of course. She is the glue that holds everything together.

Rory: I’m playing Serebryakov a once powerful and successful man now close to death , this happens to us all whatever our lives have been through.

How have you found working on this production so far?

Rory: The company are incredible the enthusiasm and passion that the cast has is amazing, and for to me to be involved with them is an honour.

Gilly: Intense with such a short rehearsal period of two weeks only. Also keeping ones focus when the audience is in such close proximity is a challenge. Tales Retold, the production company have worked at The Hope so many times so were able to tell us how to adapt and our director James Stone was a wizard at moving six people around the small space.

Why do you think the play has been proving so popular with audiences over the years?

Rory: Family conflicts are always fascinating for an audience to watch and when we go to the theatre or a film we are really going to see ourselves aren’t we?

Gilly: Because it is still as relevant today as it was back then. The divide between the rich and the poor is in someways worse now. Its in tune with all of our worries that we face in the 21st century now – even climate change. So many people feel like they aren’t heard by their governments or anybody in fact. Everyone is alienated.

What were your first impressions of the play?

Gilly: The central themes of alienation of unrequited love hit me first. What Russia was like before the revolution. The causes of the rich and powerful on its people especially the peasants. Also the sickness of not just in the physical sense but in the human spirit.

For people thinking about coming to see it – why should they book a ticket?

Gilly: It will sell out and fast too! They will laugh and cry in equal measure. We are a talented bunch of actors giving it our all. It’s also important to see how theatre written in the 1900’s is still as relevant today. It is a story of just one family whose plight is every families problem today.

Rory: There really is nothing like live theatre is there?

By Emma Clarendon

Uncle Vanya continues to play at the Hope Theatre until the 11th May.