Ayckbourn adapting Chekhov classic to Brit setting

Ralph Fiennes is planning to appear onstage in “Dear Uncle,” a new adaptation of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” by veteran Brit playwright Alan Ayckbourn.

Penciled in for summer 2011, the project will continue the partnership of producers David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers with helmer Matthew Warchus, whose productions include Tony winners “Art” and “God of Carnage.”

Pugh told Daily Variety he commissioned the adaptation following the paper’s coverage of Ayckbourn’s tragicomic trilogy “The Norman Conquests,” which described the plays as “Uncle Vanya in suburbia.” That production, which transferred from London’s Old Vic to Broadway and won a Tony last year for revival of a play, also was directed by Warchus.

Author of 73 plays, Ayckbourn has long regarded Chekhov’s original as his favorite play. His adaptation relocates it from Russia to Britain’s Lake District in 1935. No theater has yet been chosen.

“I don’t want it to be another West End production in a traditional theater,” said Pugh. “‘The Norman Conquests’ worked very successfully in-the-round and we’re looking to find somewhere different where we could do that shape again.”

No further casting has been confirmed. “It’s sufficiently far off for us to to get a star for every part,” Pugh said.

Names mentioned so far include Ken Stott (“Art”) in the title role, with Kristin Scott Thomas and Carey Mulligan (“An Education”), the latter two having played both London and Gotham in Chekhov’s “The Seagull.” Fiennes would play the role based on Astrov.

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