Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Cherry Orchard"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark


"The Cherry Orchard"

by Anton Chekhov

Created by The Living House Theatre Company
The Veronique Ballroom
Longwood Towers
20 Chapel Street, Brookline MA
1(781)431-2306

(*Details below)

What an old Nincompoop I am! First I miss the first few minutes of the show, and can't even find the right entrance to the theatre --- and now I find I rushed off to write a glowing review so fast I didn't even pick up a program!! And this new Living House Theatre doing such good work are doing Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" a play with a dozen or so carefully realized characters who all have those names --- you know, Russian Russianovitch Somethingorother but half the time they call him Rusha! --- and I know only Two of the actors by name and no names for the designer who gave them all such beautifully comfortable period costumes or the director who used the big Baronial ballroom space so comfortably --- and who made this old, talky Russian play so breezily, believably funny! I have so much to say about how good I thought everyone was, and without a program I don't even know who I'm talking about. Nincompoop!!!

The trouble is, without a good, accurate, detailed review no one will ever find this show, and the cast may outnumber the audience every night, as they did on the opening. And that would mean the lightness everyone brings to what people think of as a gloomy, stolid old Russian warhorse will be wasted. No, people must be impelled to rush over across the street from the Longwood stop on the Green Line to see that Chekhov was right --- "The Cherry Orchard" is a comedy! I mean, on the very day their expensive old estate is being auctioned right out from under them, these people are giving a ball! a dance of destitution! They are the sort of Grande-Gesture ditherers who expect to live on credit forever, the sort who need a faithful old servant running after them with the proper overcoats lest they catch cold. They cannot part with the orchard not because it's profitable but just because it's pretty! And of course they can never discuss tawdry business matters Now --- like Scarlet O'Hara they'll deal with it ... tomorrow.

They talk all night and go to bed at dawn, they expect a crotchety old great-aunt somewhere to miraculously make things go on as they have forever so they never have to lift a finger themselves. The young fall fitfully, incongruously in love while the old practice minuscule economies and give lavish presents. The only practical one among them is the son of a slave who's made enough money to buy the place, but only to develop its worthless land (and orchard!) into a strip of summer homes for vacationing Muscovites! Imagine! Chop down all those pretty trees, just to make money? Ridiculous!

The director --- whoever that might be --- has given each self-infatuated person a distinct style, and everyone wears their character as effortlessly as the elegantly expensive costumes of a stylishly decadent era. The end of the Longwood Towers ballroom has become their spacious stage, with four patient musicians in the wings providing incidental music. Every door has become an entrance-way, the little balcony becomes a playing-space, and the flow of the show is so light and swift and oddly unhurried that the dancing throughout the penultimate scene feels totally appropriate. This a delight-filled "Cherry Orchard" --- and my only addle-headed regret is that I cannot assign proper credit for all the fine, lovingly detailed work everyone in the new Living House Theatre Company has done to bring it alive.

I don't know. Maybe someone in the cast will read this, take pity on me, and e-mail me a cast-list. But then, who'd even want to read something written by an old Nincompoop like me.

Love,
===Anon.

*The director generously supplied this information:

"The Cherry Orchard"

by Anton Chekhov
adaptation by Jean-Claude van Itallie
Directed by Wanda Strukus

Produced by Kevin Wery
Music arranged by Jeri Sykes
Costume Design by Toni Bratton Elliot
Lighting Design by Kathy Peter
Set Design by Sarah Kirchner

Yermolay Alexyevich Lopakhin.................................Andy Roth
Dunyasha....................................................................Eliza Bent
Semyon Pantelyevich Yepikhodov..................David Mawhinney
Firs.....................................................................Rick Winterson
Lyubov Andreyevna Ranevskaya.........................Andrea Squires
Anya............................................................................Sara Katz
Varya.....................................................................Sarah Beston
Leonid Andreyvich Gayev..........................................Ben Bacon
Charlotta Ivanovna.............................................Trudi Goodman
Boris Borisovich Simeonov-Pishchik.......................Brad Lofgren
Yasha....................................................................orbert Zwirner
Pyotr (Petya) Sergeyvich Trofimov.....David Maximilian Ginsberg

Music performed by
Michael Ganzak (violin)
Monica Ruiz (Bassoon)
Marcus Sjwall (Flute)
Jeri Sykes (clarinet)


"The Cherry Orchard" (18 - 29 September)
THE LIVING HOUSE THEATRE COMPANY
The Veronique Ballroom, Longwood Towers, 20 Chapel Street, BROOKLINE MA
1(781)431-2306


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