Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Cherry Orchard

I loved this show.

A new translation by Tom Stoppard and a part of the Bridge Project, a repertory mix of American and English actors rotating between the Old Vic theater in London and New York, The Cherry Orchard boasts a flawless ensemble and beautiful direction by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road, Road to Perdition, Away We Go). Kevin Spacey is the artistic director for the Old Vic.

Before seeing the show, I wondered if the mix of British and American accents would bother me, but each character was so perfectly cast that their speech patterns could not have been any more appropriate. Sinead Cusack was wonderful in the lead role of a suddenly broke woman from old money and Simon Russell Beale was magnetic and hilarious as a peasant turned businessman. Ethan Hawke was perfect as a tutor turned revolutionary. But my favorite performance of the night was Rebecca Hall (Vicky Christina Barcelona, The Prestige). Much like her character in Vicky Christina Barcelona she was incredibly and often humorously tightly wound until the end of the play. When her home and her last shred of hope for love was gone, Hall utterly broke down into sobs that wrenched the heart of the audience.

The settings and costumes were breathtaking. I got chills when, at the beginning of second act, while the family throws a party they cannot afford, the stage lit by a chandelier and a multitude of candles,the cast, dressed in masquerade attire, began to ritually dance in a circle, slowly and rigidly in a stylized version of traditional Russian dance.

Funny and moving (what Chekhov should be and rarely is), this cast completely won me over. I cannot wait to see what they do with The Winter's Tale.

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