The Cherry Orchard By Anton Chekhov
Classic Summer Series and Female Voices in Theatre
The American Theatre Of Actors, John Cullum Theatre
314 West 54th St, New York, NY 10019
Review by Alexa Garcia
The Cherry Orchard is the last play written by Anton Chekhov, produced by the Moscow Art Theatre before his death in 1904. It’s considered to most people as Chekhov’s greatest play. The story takes places in a provincial estate in Russia at the turn of the twentieth century dealing with society and class, memories/past, love, home, and change. Now, see a more modern turn of this beautiful play at the American Theatre of Actors as part of its Classic Summer Series.
Director Jessica Jennings Puentevella set the play in 1965 putting a fresh variation of the classic tragicomedy. The play begins with Luba (Madame Ranevsky) just coming home from Paris to find out that she has a heavy debt and if unsolved her estate will be auctioned off. Emrol (aka Lopakhin), repeatedly warns her about the issues they will encounter if they fail to pay off the mortgage. Yet Luba, doesn’t listen at all and continues to keep spending money they do not have. The rest of the family is caught up in the past wanting to relive all the good times.
The play was excellently done, creating an even and compelling blend of the drama and comedy. The use of props made the production more modern and a bit odd at times. The actors dressed in costumes befitting America in the 60s contributed an interpretation that both worked well theatrically and easy for all audiences to comprehend.
The expert cast included Jane Culley (Charlotte), Alexander Chilton (Peter), Cait Kiley (Velma aka. Varya), Eli Douglas LaCroix (Simon aka. Epikhodov), Joy Foster (Flor aka. Fiers), Joyce Lao (Deloris Pischin), Shanya Lawson (Anna), Johnny Blaze Leavitt (Leonard aka. Gaev), Susan Ly (Francesca aka. Dunyasha), Laris Macario (Emrol aka. Yermoli Lophakin), Monica Blaze (Luba aka Mdm. Ranevsky), and Elizabeth Chappel (Frankie aka. Yasha). Each actor, the concept and staging … fantastic.
I think I’ll go read the original.