Interview with Madeleine Gray - Sonya in The Orange Tree's Uncle Vanya

By Heather Nicholls

25th Feb 2024 | Local News

Interview with Madeleine Gray - Sonya in The Orange Tree's Uncle Vanya. (Photo Credit: The Orange Tree Theatre).
Interview with Madeleine Gray - Sonya in The Orange Tree's Uncle Vanya. (Photo Credit: The Orange Tree Theatre).

As Richmond's Orange Tree Theatre gears up for its performance of Checkov's Uncle Vanya, Nub News was lucky enough to sit down with Madeleine Gray to discuss her character and the play!

Uncle Vanya follows the story of Sonya and her Uncle Vanya who lead an uneventful life on their country estate, animated only by visits from the dashing local doctor.

When Sonya's famous father and his glamorous new wife unexpectedly turn up, old grudges return and new desires ignite. In the heat of summer, tempers boil over and forbidden lusts threaten to end in catastrophe. 

The cast of Uncle Vanya. (Photo Credit: The Orange Tree).

Madeleine will be playing Sonya in Uncle Vanya, which will be running at The Orange Tree Theatre from 7 March to 13 April 2024.

Madeleine's previous credits include A Murder Has Been Arranged at The Theatre Royal Windsor and The Batman.

Read on for our interview with Madeliene Gray!

What are you excited about for spending time in Richmond and performing at the orange tree? 

Madeleine: "The orange tree is such a beautiful space and because it's quite intimate and in the round it's going to give a really up close experience for the audience. 

"The play has a lot of will they won't they and the space helps elevate that.

"Everyone who works here is absolutely darling and really really wonderful. 

"Its nice to be in London but have the calmness of Richmond, we went for a whole cast walk along the river, well almost a whole cast walk, and it was just absolutely beautiful so it's nice to come to these calming surroundings and be rehearsing a wonderful play."

What drew you to want to be in this performance? 

Madeleine: "I have loved Checkov for a long time.

"I first studied it when I was at drama school. This play in particular is all about finding purpose in your life and unrequited love and I think its something everyone can relate to. 

"The way the Checkov writes is just so stunning and beautiful and hilarious and tragic at the same time.  

"Also, working at the Orange Tree which is an amazing place with Trevor Nunn, is definitely something that made me fight hard to get in the room for this."

Can you tell me a little bit about your character?:

Madeliene: "My character is Sonya and Uncle Vanya is her Uncle.

"She and uncle vanya have lived on the estate with Vanya's mother and Telegin and she's a very hardowkrig, gentle yet stern, stern isn't quite the right word. She has strong beliefs and she follows them through.  She can be naive but she is the hope that holds the destruction together."

What is your favourite part of playing her?:

Madeleine: "The way she can hold these two opposing feelings inside her. She's in control of the estate, she does all the hard work, she sells flour at the market, she's very work work work and yet she also has this really childlike playful innocent quality which comes out when she's given the opportunity to be free of the begrudgery of everyday life.

"It's really fun to play with both of those things."

Do you think you relate to the character in any way?:

Madeliene: "Oh yes, definitely. She is swept up by the sort of charismatic doctor who comes to visit the estate every now and then and she falls desperately in love with him but the unrequited feeling of loving someone that doesn't know you exist is a feeling that I'm sure a lot of us can relate to. 

"She's so sweet and she's so heartfelt and earnest and I relate to that as well. I think I can sometimes be very very earnest as well." 

What are you excited about for working with the rest of the cast?:

Madeliene: "I mean everyone is just full of talent and imagination and creativity and its a real honour to work with each and every single one of them.

"They all bring such richness. The casting of this play has been done exceptionally well, everyone is perfect to play their parts and it just really elevates the show and everyone is just so lovely and supportive of each other. 

"Its nice to have those chats with actors outside of rehearsals where you discuss the project. Everyone's very passionate about the project. Everyone was off book as soon as we were up on our feet which shows real commitment to the work."

Why do you think the people of richmond should come and watch? 

Madeliene: "Uncle vanya is a classic Checkov play, its full of the depths of what it means to be human and be lviing purposfully. Its both really funny and wildly tragic at the same time and you can see the full scope of everything a person can be. 

"Its a great opportunity to see Trevors work, he's theatre royalty and to see his work in such an intimate setting is going to be amazing. Its the first time he's directed uncle vanya and i think its going ot be a wild ride. 

"Its really about the search for purpose and i think that the cast and the creative team and design and the costume is all going to be something really magical. Its all very traditional so we'll be in the big outfits. If you've ever thought about your purpose in life. 

"It almost feels like lockdown in a way because there's all these characters who find themselves in this country estate and its about new connections and new desires and how you navigate this strange family dynamic."

Book your tickets and find out more here.

The Orange Tree Theatre is a sponsor of Richmond Nub News, without our sponsors, our online newspaper would not be possible.


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