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The Cherry Orchard

By Anton Chekhov

Manchester School of Theatre

Capitol Theatre, 16 October 2013

This is a vibrant production of Chekhov’s classic play.

As long as we live through times of technological change and social upheaval, and we will sure enough, The Cherry Orchard will have relevance to us.

Several things stood out in this production.  There were strong performances all around, particularly from Anna Herzog as Ranyevskaya, Christopher Finnegan (Lopakhin) and Sian Morgan (Charlotta); they were easily of professional calibre.  Peter Knowles’ set made inventive use of the given space; the way the set created depth in the third act was something that others could learn from.  And the music, too, was well chosen: the gypsy song Dve Gitari between acts 1 and 2 being especially atmospheric.

As for the drama itself, well, it is suffused with a sense of precariousness – and so clearly of our time.  Ranyevskaya (a woman wounded by love, as her name suggests) and her brother are wracked with an anxiety over the future, an uncertainty as to how to make ends meet.  There is comedy and cruelty, certainly, yet Chekhov’s talent for humanity, his compassionate heart, is everywhere evident.  The ending is both an occasion for hope and a reason to despair.

The play’s a masterpiece and this was a wonderful theatrical rendering of it.

The Cherry Orchard is at the Capitol Theatre until 19 October, further details can be found here.

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