The Cherry Orchard

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Previewed 23 May 2009, Opened 9 June 2009, Closed on 15 August 2009 at the Old Vic Theatre in London

A major revival of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard in London, presented in a new version by Tom Stoppard, starring Ethan Hawke and directed by Sam Mendes.

The Gaev family face bankruptcy and the loss of their estate. Even so, they refuse to sell their largest asset, their famous cherry orchard. The old world is giving way to the new, but the Gaevs seem not to have noticed the bewildering changes in the Russian way of life. The fate of the beautiful orchard becomes a symbol of the fate of all of the characters in this unassailable masterpiece. This is Chekhov's daring, droll meditation on bourgeois materialism and what remains in its wake, presented here in a new version by Olivier Award-winner Tom Stoppard.

The cast for The Cherry Orchard in London features Ethan Hawke as 'Trofimov', Simon Russell Beale as 'Lopakhin', Sinead Cusack as 'Madame Ranevskaya', Richard Easton as 'Firs', Josh Hamilton as 'Yasha' and Rebecca Hall as 'Varya'. It is directed by Sam Mendes with set designs by Anthony Ward, costume designs by Catherine Zuber, lighting by Paul Pyant, sound by Paul Arditti and music by Mark Bennett. This production play in repertory with William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. Presented as part of the The Bridge Project, an unprecedented three-year, transatlantic partnership uniting The Old Vic Theatre in London with The Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, and Neal Street Productions. The Winter's Tale and The Cherry Orchard are the first two productions in this partnership. The cast are appearing with the permission of American Equity and UK Equity.

Anton Chekhov's plays include The Wood Demon, Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters, The Seagull and Ivanov.

"Viewed on the same day, The Cherry Orchard is technically excellent, but slightly underpowered emotionally by contrast with its knockout predecessor... A play all about class is harder to make sense of if some of your cast are speaking in effectively classless American accents. And as Lopakhin, the nouveau-riche peasant who ends up seeing off the debt-mired toffs whose ancestors owned his ancestors, Beale lets a hint of Brummie creep into his accent. Lopakhin, in this production, is the play's centre of gravity. His half adoring, half resentful relationship with Cusack's childishly distracted Ranevskaya is nuanced and full of pathos. You feel for him - more, in fact, than you feel for Ranevskaya. That's clever, because it gives a universal inflection to a play embedded in a particular moment in Russia's social history." The Sunday Times

"There's more atmosphere and theatrical magic generally in Tom Stoppard's brisk, blustery new version of The Cherry Orchard, especially in the splendid second half. That's no thanks, though, to Ethan Hawke's unpersuasive tutor, who thinks he knows what's what. Once again, Rebecca Hall and Simon Russell Beale shine brightest... Designer Anthony Ward's nursery of child-sized furniture deftly makes Chekhov's point that this is a return to childhood for some of the characters, specially Ranevskaya and her brother, neither of whom have grown up and taken responsibility for their own lives. Cusack's character is vain, flirtatious, sentimental and silly - congenitally incapable of seeing the wood for the cherry trees and realising how easily the estate might be saved - but also sympathetic enough to make you believe that Chekhov has a soft spot for the old order." The Mail on Sunday

The Cherry Orchard in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 23 May 2009, opened on 9 June 2009 and closed on 15 August 2009.


Royal Shakespeare Company - The Cherry Orchard 1996

Previewed 21 November 1996, Opened 25 November 1996, Closed 25 January 1997 at the Noel Coward Theatre in London

The Royal Shakespeare Company present's Adrian Noble's revival of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard in London starrng Penelope Wilton and Alec McCowen.

"The RSC's much-trumpeted Cherry Orchard has at last come to London, and more than lives up to its accolades. Chekhov's subject is a society in convulsion, the upper-classes are past their serve-by date, the serfs are on the make, everyone is hideously status conscious and yet no one knows quite where they belong any more. Isolated and ill at ease, the characters either talk to themselves or talk at someone else - which makes them simultaneously figures of fun and objects of sympathy. In his strikingly evenhanded and beautifully uncluttered treatment of the play, Adrian Noble heightens both the comedy and the tragedy and draws some richly detailed performances from an absolutely matchless cast. Alec McCowen gives us a man who has not been allowed by his manservant to dress himself, never mind think for himself; in Penelope Wilton's spendthrift, self-indulgent Ranyeskaya an eloquent battle between sentimentality and true feeling rages; at the centre stands David Troughton's bullish Lopakhin, a peasant who has proved his superiority by buying the estate that once enslaved his ancestors, and yet cannot overcome his innate sense of inferiority. Compelling stuff." The Mail on Sunday