Sir Peter Hall Heckles Laura Carmichael at UNCLE VANYA's Opening Night on the West End?

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According to The Telegraph, Downton Abbey star Laura Carmichael took the stage to some harsh words from the audience in her debut in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya at the West End's Vaudeville Theatre on November 2nd. What's even more surprising is that the critical exclamation came from former director of The National Theatre Sir Peter Hall.

"Stop, stop, stop," he said during the Carmichael's final lines on opening night. "It doesn't work and you don't work. It is not good enough. I could be at home watching television."

Read the original report here.

Carmichael was able to keep her composure and finish the performance. Hall left quickly at the end of the production. Eye-witness audience members and the Vaudeville's owner Nica Burns disagree about whether Hall meant to heckle Carmichael or some other element or actor in the production, or whether he disliked the show at all.

Then, yesterday, Hall seemingly flip-flopped on his former statement, saying, "I thought it was a simply marvelous evening, a fine production with a superb company of actors."

Hall has directed productions of Uncle Vanya at the National in 1982 and at the Rose Theatre, Kingston, in 2008.

Carmichael is joined in the cast by Ken Stott, Anna Friel and Samuel West. Adapted by Christopher Hampton, Uncle Vanya is directed by Lindsay Posner with designs by Christopher Oram and opened at the Vaudeville Theatre on November 2, 2012.

Vanya (Ken Stott), Yelena (Anna Friel), Astrov (Samuel West) and Sonya (Laura Carmichael) are all in love, with the past, with ideals and with each other. As their universe shifts around them they struggle to keep their emotions at bay in this exquisitely evoked comedy of the trials and tribulations of the human condition.

Laura Carmichael is best known for her role as Edith Crawly in the hugely popular ITV series Downton Abbey. Her other television and film credits include The Heart of Thomas Hardy, House at the End of Our Street and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. On stage she has appeared in Plenty directed by Thea Sharrock (Sheffield Crucible), The London Cuckolds, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, The Vicar of Wakefield and As You Like It (Bristol Old Vic).

For more information, visit www.unclevanyatheplay.com.

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