UNCLE Vanya manages a rural estate, while his employer, Professor Serebrayakov, enjoys the good life, swanning around and masquerading as an intellectual.
Just to rub salt into Vanya's wounds, the ageing Prof has a much younger wife, who attracts the attentions of both he and the highly eligible Dr Astrov.
Vanya treats us to a master class in discontentment, thanks to an impassioned performance as by Nick Holder who, along with David Fleeshman as his ungrateful employer, treat us to some memorable confrontations. I simply couldn't take my eyes off them as they tore into each other on the HOME stage.
It's remarkable to think Chekhov's masterpiece was first performed in 1898. The play, in the hands of director Walter Meierjohann, full of simmering passion and exquisite, evocative dialogue, feels so modern, so fresh. There are even references to the need to protect the environment. This theatre company, when it was the much loved Library Theatre, always excelled when it came to the classics and this production further cements that reputation.
Hara Yannas is elegant and engaging as the professor's wife, Yelena, and Jason Merrells cuts a charismatic figure as Astrov. But for me, the most affecting performance comes from Katie Wet as the lovely Sonya. Loyal and disarmingly decent, she finds herself nursing the pain of unrequited love.
Live theatre doesn't get any better than this and the music adds to the atmosphere. A production not to be missed.
* Until November 25. The box office is on 0161 200 1500. Star rating - ****