“The Cherry Orchard” by Anton Chekhov
Written shortly before the Russian Revolution, The Cherry Orchard is one of the greatest of all of Chekhov's plays and regarded as one of the classics of 20th Century theatre.
The play concerns an aristocratic Russian landowner, Ranevskaya, who returns to her family estate, which includes a large, popular cherry orchard, just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. Unresponsive to offers to save the estate, she allows its sale to the son of a former serf; the family leaves to the sound of the cherry orchard being cut down.
This is a newer version of the old classic, reimagined by Simon Stephens and directed by Giles Croft.
This is Giles’ final production, and his first Chekhov play, as the artistic director at the Nottingham Playhouse.It's an apt choice as the play is all about saying goodbye to the past and moving on to
Set design is by Tim Meacock and as soon as you walk into the auditorium, the marvellous set just hits you right between the eyes. it reminded me a little of the TV set for the house in "The Durrells". Rustic but with great character but in need of tender loving care.
Lighting is designed by Steph Bartle and the Sound design by Adam McCready who also composed the original music for this play.
Choreographed by Adele Parry and the stylish costumes by Jane Temple.
The cast presented themselves as a family group surrounded by friends and that is how it came across. By doing this there didn't seem to be anyone who stuck out more than the next actor. This made for an easy watch and a most believable set of relationships.
That said I am now going to contradict myself because I was drawn towards the characterisation of Firs, the manservant played by Kenneth Alan-Taylor. You felt a certain empathy with Firs having to work into his old age but knowing that this was his life and if it all came to an end, then so would he.
Sara Stewart (Madame Lyubov Ranevskaya), John Elkington (Alexander Lopakhin ), Claire Storey (Charlotte Ivanovna), Jonathan Oliver (Boris Simeonov-Pishchik ), Robin Kingsland (Leonid Gayev), Jamie de Courcey (Peter Trofimov ), Patrick Osborne Goll (Lev the Station Master and Traveller) were all excellent, making you buy into their roles and characters.
An ensemble of dancers also appeared at the end who had only been visible from a certain angle from the auditorium created the atmosphere of a party just off stage.
The play is worthy of it's "classic" label and with such an able and talented cast, this night at the theatre was an absolute joy. The story isn't locked into the era of its' origin, but has relevance in today's society.
Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" is at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 18 November 2017.