DIRECTED BY SAM MENDES
AT BAM NEW YORK PRODUCED BY THE BRIDGE PROJECT.
Starring Simon Russell Beale (photo)
The Bridge project is a venture between America, England to do classics
featuring British, American and Irish actors here and abroad.
The new translation of Anton Chekhov's Cherry Orchard is by the brilliant and prolific
The Old Vic and Kevin Spacey are partners in this and future productions which will also
stage the play along with Winter's Tale to open in Feb.
The cast of Cherry Orchard includes brilliant actors such as Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack and Ethan Hawke and Richard Easton.
Cherry Orchard, a dramatic comedy by one of the finest writers, Chekhov does not disappoint
in the fine and brilliant hands such as Sam Mendes, the director and Simon Russell Beale, one of the most charismatic actor with a booming and melodious voice.
This is at least the 10th time that I have been fortunate to see Simon Russel Beale and every time I am in awe of his talent and pleasantly haunted by his voice.
The last time I saw him on stage was at the National Theatre in London in Harold Pinter's
plays. Though Chekhov and Pinter are two different kinds of geniuses, Simon Russell Beale
shine bright in both. He has the technique and ability to make every part he plays as if it was exclusively written for him.
Simon Russell Beale who plays Lopakhin, a merchant who eventually buys the much loved
but un-manageable cherry orchard from Ranevskaya, a middle aged actress and a fading beauty
who spends most of her time in Paris and is crippled by the romance and the memory of her childhood attachement to the place but is un-able to be practical and sit and make a plan for the Orchard.
The characters portrayed here are as if their growth is stunted as nursery room spoiled children and the director Sam Mendes uses the props, Little chairs and little tables to a great affect. Ranevskaya, the grand dame played by Sinead Cusack fits the role perfectly well, she is petite enough to be a young girl and strong enough to never let go of her childhood memories of that very nursery and her grief of the loss of her young son who drowned in the lake.
For these very reasons she never want to part with her estate but Chekhov's play reveals how the times were changing at that very time for a change to build more and become more profitable at the expanse of demolition of a memory even if its haunting.
Lopakhin, the merchant played by Simon Russell Beale who is madly in love with Ranevskaya
is much more practical who has the means to buy the property, converts it into summer cottages for the tourists and still merry Ranevskaya, (Hope against hope) so she can have her
estate in a different form and still live in her native country. But this is not how it works in Chekhov's land.
Dreams stay as dreams, desires remain un-fullfilled, people are in love with the wrong person,
nostalgia of the past becomes the present, characters drown their sorrow and guilt in vodka and Masha of three sisters never get to Moscow.
The staging of the play is just fantastic. With very little props and furniture and no sign of a single cherry blossom, Sam Mendes direction moves forward smoothly. Set which consists of
gorgeous colorful carpets and a beautiful chandelier in the second act breaths with the confused
emotions of the characters and gives a haunting feelings of the glamour of the past.
Ethan Hawke as Trofimov, a student who is very much for the progress and change of the future also is very good but the show belongs to Simon Russell Beale. He is an enormous present on stage and has the strength, humor and vocal ability of a master crafts man.
Every moment he is on stage is to be cherished.
Cherry Orchard is enjoyable and elegant and lives with you as a lingering melodious nostalgia of a beautiful memory of the past.