Cherry Garden on the Province Stage

Cherry Garden

It is surprising that Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” has remained the most popular and coveted play among contemporary directors from all over the world for a hundred years. Now in Moscow we can see more than ten interpretations of the classics written in 1904. And even more surprisingly, everyone is different (or tries to be). Chekhov sounds very modern, and getting acquainted with his heroes, finding ourselves in their characters, we involuntarily think, is Anton Pavlovich ahead of his time? Or have we not gone too far?

Sergey Bezrukov presents his view of the Cherry Orchard and today’s reality to the viewer. For him, The Cherry Orchard is a play about a nation repeating Atlantis, ruined by the Atlanteans themselves, a play about love that a person needs for life, but which is not. Lopakhin loves Ranevskaya here (who is considered to be elderly, but in fact she was only 35 years old), Ranevskaya has a hard time experiencing the personal tragedy that caused her to leave Paris. Varya loves Lopakhin and cannot hide it, which becomes the subject of general interest, gossip, but Lopakhin cannot even explain to her. Anya loves the “eternal student” Trofimov, who denies love in general and believes that it only interferes with moving forward. But he himself is stuck without love in a swamp of inaction and longing.

In the “Cherry Orchard” there are no happy people, no living people, there is only loneliness. The decoration at first glance seems too simple: fake grass, trees that do not even resemble a garden, but a whole forest, into which the heroes leave and from which they emerge, a washstand. Sometimes a table is brought out, sometimes a cart rolls out. But seemingly simple scenography creates an atmosphere of a certain isolation, idle, lazy and insignificant life in the wilderness.

Nobody hears anyone: the dialogues are abrupt, disconnected from each other. Do Chekhov’s heroes themselves notice their detachment and inhumanity?

On the stage of the Provincial Theater, the line of Lopakhin’s love for Ranevskaya and his feelings are much more clearly visible, he himself is an intellectual who has risen from the bottom, but nevertheless, he is not a monster eager to destroy the “Cherry Orchard” as many see him, he is not inhuman. Ranevskaya is presented in the form of a strong, even fatal woman, who still has everything ahead, and her tender affection for The Cherry Orchard is only in words, she loves nothing and no one. Even outwardly, Lyubov Andreevna looks sharp: she is brightly painted, dressed in a beautiful black dress. She evokes neither compassion nor pity. If in some other productions Ranevskaya is a powerless and touching figure, then here she does not create such an impression, but becomes proof that a person is responsible for his troubles, and if he is inactive, then this leads to the death of something very important.

There was one very interesting moment in the play, which reveals the theme of the forever gone childhood, the past, which is simply ridiculous to return. The actors bring a dollhouse onto the stage, which Ranevskaya calls a “cupboard”. And the wardrobe, to which here sings, playing along with the harpsichord, Gayev’s ode is a small model of a real wardrobe.

The authors of the play tried to recreate the atmosphere as close as possible to the beginning of the twentieth century through everyday life, through costumes, through music: once even the folk song “Eh, cudgel” sounds. It so happened that by maximally moving Chekhov away from us in the space-time continuum, Bezrukov brought his viewer close to them spiritually.

Where are we going? How do we live? What is valuable to us today besides money? These are questions that are difficult to answer because we often cannot admit our mistakes, and when we start to think about our past, it turns out that too much has been done wrong and it is too late to correct it. We do not hear each other, we exist too disconnected, we follow a fashion that does not extend to sincerity, but what is really scary is that all these themes do not appear to us as something terrible, either in the play or in life. All this is now a common phenomenon, everything is going on as usual, just like a century ago, and we are so used to ignoring some important events, problems that, in order to make us stop for a second and think not only about ourselves, the string must break, that the most that the heroes of “The Cherry Orchard” heard.

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