Uncle Vanya is arguably the first great modernist drama, full of ambiguities and contradictions, delicately balancing the tragic and the absurd, the farcical and the hauntingly poetic. Maxim Gorky wrote that "its ideas are huge, symbolic and its form original, incomparable". Certainly its themes, particularly the passing of time and the process of ageing, are universal. Trapped in the claustrophobic depths of rural Russia, Chekhov's assortment of all-too-human characters drive each other mad, as the arrival of two outsiders forces the incumbents to re-examine the choices they have made. Old wounds are reopened, passions awakened, thwarted ambitions bubble to the surface and lives are turned upside down.