Anthony horton

Places: A Week Of Acting Brilliance On Two Continents

Earlier this month, in the UK, I was fortunate enough to view the National Theatre’s livestream of Andrew Scott’s unparalleled performance in “Vanya,” described as Simon Stephens’s radical adaptation of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya.” Scott delivers a solo version of this play in a performance that is simply stunning in its depth and versatility.

After watching Andrew Scott in several series and films, including “Sherlock,” “A Dark Place,” “Black Mirror,” and “1917,” I was aware of his capabilities as a talented and entertaining actor. What “Vanya,” the live show directed by Sam Yates, engendered was a sense of awe at the genius he brings to his craft. He plays eight characters with a fluidity that shape-shifts and streams through movement, voice, and expression. Somehow, watching this act, I became engrossed in each character’s development through the plot.

People often say the best actors are those so great they make you forget it’s them in the role. With “Vanya,” Scott accomplishes this as a single actor, alone on stage. Incredible. Having been exposed to live theater throughout my life, whether at The Stratford Festival in Canada, where I have seen countless productions, obscure off-Broadway performances in New York, the charm of The Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta, or the many National Theatre Live-streamed shows I saw through the pandemic, I have to say this was one of the more powerful performances of any.

Skip forward 5 days. Whether it was AI tracking me or listening to me rave about “Vanya” and then presenting suggested content in response, or just simple coincidence – something I have a diminishing belief in whenever it involves the digital world – the movie “All Of Us Strangers” was presented as a Prime Video movie recommendation. Again, a staggering performance in this somewhat bleak, heavy story.

In “All Of Us Strangers,” we’re taken on a somber journey through the web of human connection, and Scott delivers a performance that is nothing short of brilliant. In this film, he portrays a character that is both deeply flawed and profoundly relatable, managing both loss and redemption. Scott’s ability to convey the subtleties of emotional turmoil without resorting to melodrama is commendable. His portrayal is a delicate balance of vulnerability and strength, drawing the audience into a reflective state on the complexity of relationships and the resilience of the human spirit.

I have now added Scott to my list of incredible actors who have managed to take me to imaginary places as an impressed viewer, including Gary Oldman, Cate Blanchett, Daniel Day-Lewis, Tom Hardy, Emma Thompson, Charlize Theron, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

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