I’m always excited to see a show at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. This is because they have a knack for creating some fantastic productions, whether they’re bits of new writing or revamps of classic plays. My latest trip to the Playhouse involved me seeing the latter, which came in the form of a new adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s 1897 play Uncle Vanya. Newly adapted by Samuel Adamson and directed by the Playhouse’s associate director Mark Rosenblatt, I descended into the Quarry Theatre looking forward to seeing the work of one of the forefathers of modern drama.

Uncle Vanya is set on a rural estate in Russia, where the title character (played by David Ganly) resides with his mother Maria (Eve Pearce), his nephew Sonya (Dorothea Myer-Bennett), the country doctor Astrov (Ryan Kiggell) and their maid, Marina (Anne Lacey). One day, the owner of the estate, Vanya’s older brother-in-law and university professor Sebrayakov (John Bett) and his much younger, gorgeous wife Yelena (Georgina Rylance), pay a visit to the estate. It isn’t long before tensions start to arise, and Vanya reveals his love for Yelena and disappointment with his current life, forced upon him by his family years ago during Sebrayakov’s rise to academic and social success.

What follows is a brilliant portrayal of the frustrations with living in someone else’s shadow and having your love unrequited. Laced with an underlying sense of regret and hopelessness, each of the actors’ performances cut through the external layers of the play and really connected with the audience. The characters were all well-developed, and the relationships were clear; the execution of Chekhov’s text was done with ease and powerful honesty.

The production is also brilliantly designed, with a set dripping with the director’s concept adorning the Quarry Theatre stage. The production is set in a forest, and the creative team have replaced the trees with looming telegraph poles that tie everything together. This includes the isolation and loneliness of the characters, along with Astrov’s belief in keeping the country natural and organic in a time when technological advancements were rapidly increasing. Simple movements of furniture and changes in lighting, accompanied by music, help to signify scene changes, and there’s a real sense of fluidity that courses throughout the whole production.

West Yorkshire Playhouse’s new production of Uncle Vanya is brilliant; it’s got all of the right ingredients that make up a great piece of theatre. While its basis was on a fantastic work of drama to begin with, the Playhouse have demonstrated that they really can bring to life such classics and inject them with the necessary contemporary components that appeal to a modern audience. It’s engrossing, powerful and beautifully composed.

Uncle Vanya is playing at West Yorkshire Playhouse until 21 March. For more information and tickets, see the West Yorkshire Playhouse.