Review by Carys Svendsen.
The Cherry Orchard tells the tragic tale of Ranyevskaya and the selling of the family's cherry orchard due to lack of funds. However it is so much more than just a plot of land. The orchard holds nostalgic memories for both family and friends alike, which is under threat (although you initially believe it's a joke) due to Lopakhin's business plan for a summerhouse. Tim Pottinger's performance of Lopakhin was not only distinctive due to a west country accent in a cast of southern English accents, but also due to his character portrayal being incredibly immersive and initially leading the audience to underestimate him in his business ventures. From his speeches about being a peasant (his father was, he certainly isn't) to the scene where he drunkenly declares he has purchased the orchard, Pottinger created such an emotionally charged scene that it was impossible to look away from the stage. It's also important to mention his 'will they, won't they' relationaship with Varya (Alison Saunders), as you watch the two become close one second and so distant the next - the constant tension was just another element to the drama.
Despite having dramatic elements throughout, Chekhov's original intention of it being a comedy, is seemingly fulfilled by director, Jeremy Thomas. Characters such as Yepikhodoo (Evan Barker) and Firs (John Betts) did hilarious physical comedy as well as witty one-liners, making the characters even more lovable. However, this doesn't diminish the emotionally charged scenes, particularly the final scene with the eviction of the household. The house that was filled with memories has become run down, like the family itself, through tragic events such as the loss of Ranyeveskaya's son, Grisha, Ranyeveskaya and her daughter rushing home from Paris after she has been scammed out of her money, her bother Gayev and his unfortunate failings in life and you create a powerful yet heartbreaking scene as you witness the end of an era for the family who are going into an uncertain future and the final sound you hear is the chopping down of the cherry orchard.
Despite a great night out, there were moments between scene changes where I twiddled my thumbs. Although Thomas' direction led to superb use of proxemics and there was a character in every corner of the stage doing something, the scene changes left me slightly disappointed. Althoug not too many, they weren't quick and I was left estless in complete silence and darkness.
Overall I highly recommend the production if you're a fan of drama with comedic elements as well as 19th/early 20th century drama.