Raven Theatre's Michael Menendian Directs Chekhov's Comedic Drama The Cherry Orchard
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The last date listed for The Cherry Orchard was Saturday July 23, 2011 / 8:00pm.
Currently at Raven Theatre East Stage
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A profound portrait of a family teetering on the edge, Tony-winning playwright Richard Greenberg's… More
Reviews & Ratings
Featured review from Andrea L
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Theatre is a visual and auditory experience. It is not radio.
I am not a fan of color-blind casting because in many cases, I find it confusing. For example, when Shakespeare had two brothers, one white, one black, with white father and mother, it not only begged the question of parenthood as a visual riddle, it took a while past the English accents to figure out just who was who.
Raven's previous production, Radio Golf, was not colorblind, specifically because the characters as written needed to be black, or the play wouldn't make much sense.
That said, at first I thought this was another effort at inane political correctness, but then I saw that it was actually quite clever...all of the serf/slave roles that were written as Russian peasants were now played by black actors. The serfs' liberation in Russia took place contemporaneously with the Civil War, so how appropriate...still a bit confusing though, as their names are Russian.
However, my argument was against the casting of one white and one Asian actor as a pair of sisters. It was simply put, visually confusing, and despite Varya's acting ability, hard to buy that these were sisters, and Varya was not an old family retainer. The visual distinction was significantly and appropriately made in the differences in the flouncy, frothy clothing of the naive and frivolous Maria and the stern, buttoned-up, thrifty look of her sister Varya.
The set was excellent, and reminded me in the use of space of that of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Some, if not all, of the music, from my reading of the program, was original, and deserves kudos
Acting was very weak in some cases, and I feel that the pacing could be tightened up.
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I had never seen a play by Chekhov and was looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I found the first act to be, perhaps, so much of its own time and place as to make it difficult to discern much universal from it. This, of course, falls much more...continued
It is the eleventh year of a new century. Money is tight. The mortgage is due or the estate will be sold at auction. Is this America circa 2011? No, it’s Russia in 1911. Some things never change!
Chekhov’s final play, cleverly mixing comedy and tragedy, tells the tale of the Ranevskayas, a Russian family of wealth and history whose estate faces financial ruin unless strong measures are taken to save it. With the structure of their way of life crumbling, money has run dry and options are few. When the family matriarch returns from the arms of her freeloading lover, a devoted former servant provides a solution. As the sun sets on their family estate, will the family take action or or will they be condemned by their own arrogance and inertia?
Director, Michael Menendian, states, “The Ranevskayas are the definition of the stubborn blindness of the dying aristocracy, borrowing to maintain their standard of living. This is a family whose financial structure has been pulled out from under them while being simultaneously apathetic to solutions presented. It is sadly reminiscent of much of American society prior to the current recession of 2008. Our production will draw on the historic parallels of post-emancipation Russia and America, with an emphasis on the class differences that so define one’s place in society.”
Russian playwright, Anton Chekhov, gained initial success as a writer of short, humorous sketches and vignettes of contemporary Russian life, before transitioning into a successful playwright. A physician by trade, Chekhov injected equal doses of humor and pathos into all of his masterful plays. His work emphasizes mood and text that continues to challenge audiences and actors alike.