THIS is a curious play, a mixture of deep and trivial dialogue and featuring characters we largely don't give two hoots about, with the Lyubov being the only exception.
She is forever haunted by the death of her son and Kirsty Bushell makes sure there's no escaping the outbursts of her inner torment, tanks to a very fine piece of acting.
The scene in which Anya (Verity Blyth) tries to comfort her mother is particularly powerful and touching, as she tries to console her mother racked by grief.
Watching this play you get rumblings of a Russia on the verge of change, a mood epitomised by the most interesting male character, the eternal student, Yasha. Yasha rejects everything the old order throws at him to persuade him to tow the social line and the excellent Haydn McLean brings a calm charisma to the role.
But while there's an appetite for social change - Chekhov's play was premiered a year before the 1905 revolution - there's an impotence as to how best to bring about such change. Likewise, the characters also seem stuck in a romantic limbo, desperately in need of some lessons in how to love.
While Chekhov has a reputation for producing some miserable work Rory Mullarkey's translation has a healthy portion of humour for the audience to savour.
The greatest play ever written? No, for me that honour goes to Shakespeare's Hamlet. But this version does pay a fitting tribute to Chekhov's undoubted genius.
* Until May 19.. The box office is on 0161 833 9833. Star rating - ***