The Cherry Orchard (Anton Chekhov) – Sydney Theatre Company production at the Wharf Theatre

I’d never seen a production of The Cherry Orchard before, and I’d never actually read it before. So I didn’t really have any preconceptions about the play (well, except that I knew it wasn’t going to be a barrel of laughs). Without having anything to compare it to, it was a bit hard to form a strong opinion of the adaptation, although at times I did feel that it was perhaps a bit too much “Australian colloquial” (given that the setting itself was clearly Russian). Some of the language seemed to jar a bit. Though I suppose that is still better than a formal, stilted translation.

With a cast that included Robyn Nevin, John Gaden, Lucy Bell and Pamela Rabe I expected the performances to be good, and as far as I could tell, without having any views of what the characters should be like, they certainly seemed to be. Though I was very surprised that Pamela Rabe’s part was so small (she played Charlotta) – I kept waiting for her to have more scenes, or more significance, and she didn’t.

And yet, somehow I didn’t feel any of the power that the play is supposed to have – not when compared to, say, Uncle Vanya. Some of the characters did seem a bit inconsistent from scene to scene, and some bits I didn’t really see the point of. So maybe there was something not quite right about the performances, or the direction, or the adaptation. Or maybe The Cherry Orchard is just one of those plays that doesn’t work for me.

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