"The Cherry Orchard" at Classic Stage Company, December 2, 2012
(photo: Carol Rosegg)
Classic Stage puts up The Cherry Orchard, the last production of its Chekhov Initiative, that included The Seagull, Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters in a new and very casual translation by John Christopher Jones.
Jones reportedly worked directly with the cast during rehearsals to
make the vocabulary choices for their respective characters. It had to
have been great fun for the actors, but the result ends up straddling
the border of anachronism and "huh?" It was my first time seeing this
play and I can't help but wonder there's something about Chekov that
never makes it through translation.
Orlando Pabotoy manages to massage the tragic material into some laughs,
though they range from clever to uncomfortable. Beyond that, it still
has plenty of dull moments as the dysfunctional family watches their
legacy waste away.
Mr. Chekov spins a standard Russian
tale of waning fortunes and prideful nobles falling on hard times.
Ranevskaya (Dianne Wiest) dithers, giggles and lives in the past,
covering her fear of a future of which she can't grasp control.
Lopakhin, a blustering John Tuturro, the former-peasant-made-good,
presents the solution, but Ranevskaya can't bring herself to act on his
advice. Daughter Varya the cast-aside homebody, is a consistently
engaging Julie Rylance. Katherine Waterston is the favorite, dewy-eyed
daughter Anya. Their uncle Gaev (Daniel Davis) also teeters on the edge
of reality. The more interesting moments come from Michael Urie's
Epikhodov, who nearly needs an ER visit as the master of disaster
desperately in love with servant Dunyasha (Elisabeth Waterston). Her
eyes fall (quite understandably) for Yasha, another peasant-now-servant
(a very sexy Slate Holmgren), whose interest beyond pleasure is living
in Ranevskaya's trail of dribbling cash. With a couple of other
archetypes tossed in, the plot is as Russian as they come.
Pacing, however, was a different issue, and it was leaden this night, pushing the few laughs farther between.
Loquasto's white set creates a sepia tone for this family who lives in
the past. I will say that his gauze act curtain around the thrust stage
created some difficulty for the audience to get to their seats. Marco
Piemontese continues the finely detailed work for Ms. Wiest's gowns, but
phones in a bit for some of the supporting roles.
The Cherry Orchard runs through December 30. Tickets here.