Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Cherry Orchard **

(Click on the title to read the full review.)

Writing this review is rather pointless since this CSC production directed by Andrei Belgrader closes tomorrow. Nevertheless, I'll weigh in if only to assure those who couldn't score tickets that they did not miss the revelatory experience suggested by some of the reviews. The production is wildly uneven, with superb moments alternating with others that are downright crude and/or pointless. (Does audience participation really have a role in a Chekhov play?) Chekhov did regard the play as a comedy, but I doubt he was thinking of slapstick. Throwing in a scene of attempted fellatio is sheer sensationalism. In abridging the text to get the evening down to 2 1/2 hours with intermission, the roles of some minor characters have been so truncated that what remains doesn't make much sense. There is some fine acting, especially by Daniel Davis, Alvin Epstein and Juliet Rylance. John Turturro has a wonderful drunk scene, but is a bit too overbearing elsewhere. Dianne Wiest, to my surprise, just isn't that interesting here; I thought she was much better in CSC's Seagull a few years back. The evening moves in fits and starts. I have never thought the play has the emotional power of Uncle Vanya or The Seagull, but it can have more impact than in this abridged version.

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