Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Friday, 16 August 2013
The Cherrry Orchard, Aug 15, 2013 **1/2
Theatre Company Southbank
Theatre, The Sumner, 10 Aug to 25 Sept 2013 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on 15 Aug Stars: **1/2
also published in Herald Sun online on Fri 16 Aug and later in print. KH
Robert Menzies (Gayev), Pamela Rabe (Ranevskaya), David Paterson (Yasha), Gareth Davies (Yepikhodov), Steve Mouzakis (Lopakhin
Stone’s 21st century version of The Cherry Orchard fails to equal
the lyrical beauty and poignant observations of Russian country life that Anton
Chekhov captured in his original, 1904 play.
In this reductive
and rather pedestrian script by Stone, bratty socialites and greedy, upwardly
mobile land developers replace the fading aristocracy and rising peasant class
of pre-revolutionary Russia.
decadent years in Paris, Lyubov Ranevskaya (Pamela Rabe) returns to her
formerly affluent family’s estate, but is unwilling to accept that their cherry
orchard must be sold for development in order to avoid bankruptcy.
boasts some fine actors and Rabe is a commanding presence as the pivotal Ranevskaya,
capturing the confusion and resistance to change of a proud woman who is a
remnant of the former gentry.
Menzies is sympathetic and poignant as her bumbling brother, Gayev, the
verbose, needy man-child, while Ronald Falk is delightfully befuddled but wise
as the old servant, Firs.
always described his plays as comedies, and Gareth Davies is a goofy clown that
captures the blundering clumsiness of Yepikhodov, the gloomy, lovelorn
Mouzakis embodies the irritating demeanour of Lopakhin, the now-wealthy former
peasant, but becomes abrasive.
moments, such as Rabe’s moving speech about her drowned son, and Menzies’
rambling musings, are not complemented by the rowdy, scattered quality of the
play appropriates Chekhov’s themes, ideas and characters, dilutes them so that
they lose their complex layers and charm, and supplants Chekhov’s irony and
subtlety with silliness and noise.
characters repeat the same stupid actions and continually get the same,
unwanted results that, in Chekhov’s play, lead to comic-tragic outcomes and
elicit sympathy but, in this version, they just seem idiotic and annoying.
direction leaves actors standing awkwardly in cavernous spaces, or clinging to
the walls as if they were spun in a centrifuge.
slowly in this world of the idle rich, but it feels like an eternity in the
adaptation reduces Chekhov’s beautifully written masterpiece to an ordinary
play with some good actors. Do I hear someone shouting, “The emperor is wearing
Costume Designer Alice Babidge
Designer Niklas Pajanti
and Sound Designer Stefan Gregory
Davies (Yepihodov), Ronald Falk (Firs), Robert Menzies (Gayev), Eloise Mignon
(Anya), Steve Mouzakis (Lopakhin), Zahra Newman (Varya), Roger Oakley
(Pischik), David Paterson (Yasha), Pamela Rabe (Andreyevna Ranevsky), Nikki
Shiels (Dunyasha), Katherine Tonkin (Charlotta), Toby Truslove (Trofimov)