Roundabout Theatre Company presents Tony winner Stephen Karam's new adaptation of Anton Chekhov's classic, starring Diane Lane, Celia Keenan-Bolger, and Tony winners Chuck Cooper, John Glover, and Joel Grey. More…
Set in Russia at the turn of the 20th century, 'The Cherry Orchard' chronicles a noblewoman's return to her family estate after a five-year absence to escape troubling memories of her son's death. Lyubov Ranevskaya (Lane) arrives home to find the cherry orchard in full bloom, but the finances of the estate on the verge of ruin. Lyubov and her brother, Gaev (Glover), find themselves scrambling to retain a vision of gentility amidst a climate of huge social and economic transition.
"It embraces the existential ennui that hovers above just about all of Chekhov’s plays. But at the same time, its mood is just a little lighter. Its dialogue seems fresh and its pace is quickened...Lane is a fabulous Lyubov...Director Simon Godwin has provided a dynamic, user-friendly production with Karam’s pitch-perfect script and excellent work from a gifted cast and a top-notch design team." Full Review
"Godwin and Karam put an American spin on the Russian staple, making it vital and relevant. (Oh, and funny.)...Though she's doing fine work, Lane seems too young to be Lyubov...At the act break, I was most eagerly awaiting Perrineau's take on Yermolai's big moment and Keenan-Bolger having something to do other than fret. They delivered in spades...It's a vibrant, meaty production, one that feels just as urgent as the original 1904 Moscow Art Theatre production must have felt." Full Review
"Karam's adaptation encompasses the elements of Chekhov’s play in all its complexity and richness...Overall, the acting is fine, although, in my opinion, Lane’s Ranevskaya is too modern and lightweight in quality. She has some nice scenes, however...The party scenes are nothing short of fabulous, with their liveliness and colorful execution balancing the somber content of the play...Kudos to playwright Karam, director Godwin, and to the Roundabout for making this production possible." Full Review
"Gives you pangs of both melancholy and magic...The show has all the markings of capital 'T' Theater. Providing the perfect punctuation for such a statement, however, is Diane Lane in the lead role of Madame Lyubov Ranevskaya...It's up to the audience to reconcile how one should measure a life well lived: through the relationships—or the real estate—you keep. If you're willing to pick, then we recommend a trip through the orchard." Full Review
"In a staging device that has proven to be controversial, these feckless souls are visibly dragged into modernity. This choice, and a few others, may divide audiences...Godwin orchestrates a parade of telling moments from the rest of his cast...The production tries to maintain a foot in two different centuries, but the execution of this idea should be stronger, even more daring, to work fully. Nevertheless, the center holds as this production has its share of telling moments." Full Review
"The accuracy, as well as the propriety, of the parallels between Chekhov's version and Karam’s remain doubtful...Godwin’s direction makes Chekhov’s monument of a play engaging, and the stellar cast brings much depth and complexity out of each character...However problematic the message of this version is, from a production standpoint, it has the quality of a meticulously tuned instrument, encompassing perfectly both the comedic and tragic elements the play endeavors to include." Full Review
"Lane is a superb actress and brings to the role the warmth, love, kindness and generosity of the character...Colorblind casting may be a purpose in this staging, but when Harold Perrineau buys the orchard...it is hard not to see the color of his skin...Simon Godwin takes care with the choreography of some roles. Celia Keenan-Bolger is particularly lithesome as she trots in and out of the main room...The similarities to our own time are clear." Full Review
"Karam’s adaptation of 'The Cherry Orchard' is one of wit and freshness...Director Simon Godwin fumbles things, staging the first act as farce, the characters mugging as if they know they’re in a Chekhov play. It muffles Karam’s writing. When the production slows down, breathes, and lets the performances speak for themselves, it’s powerful. Diverse casting brings a present-day sharpness to the play’s critique of a ruling class reaping the benefits of slavery and inequality." Full Review
"The most adventurous directorial move is the hiring of black actors to play the serfs and ex-serfs, and the substitution of the word 'slave'...If the analogy ultimately didn’t quite work for me, I appreciated the way it forced me to consider the differences in the two histories...There are just too many fine, nuanced productions in memory for theatergoers to feel the need for an updated version, or to tolerate one that, to put it charitably, could use more time to find the proper balance." Full Review
"The production seems to be struggling to pull 'The Cherry Orchard' from the 20th to the 21st century as much as one of the play's main characters struggles to pull the others from the 19th to the 20th...A production that appears to be full of ideas that don't quite blend into a unit...A fine company of actors gives individual performances that rarely seem fully connected to one another." Full Review
“Directed by high-profile new British director Simon Godwin, associate director of the U.K.’s National Theater, making his New York debut, this 'Cherry Orchard' seems to have no interpretation or explanation for a new staging. Stephen Karam, the author of last season’s acclaimed ‘The Humans’, has written a new version which seems to be heavy on American ideas in this Russian play, while both the sets and costume designs get in the way of coherence and understanding.” Full Review
"Lane is lovely and a fine actress, but never seems to fully inhabit the role. Glover, a veteran stage actor, gets laughs with his over-the-top performance, but creates an imbalance with his co-star...The multi-cultural supporting cast are all very capable – and very kinetic, constantly in motion, dancing around the stage, bumping into chairs, strutting offstage...The production, directed by the Englishman, Simon Godwin, definitely moves right along, but at the expense of a deeper feeling." Full Review
"While Karam and Godwin have mistepped in ratcheting up the timely connection between the entitled and resistant to change landowners of Chekhov's and America's world, the performances include individual standouts and some that capture the the play's most poignant Chekhovian moments...There are good performances from most of the cast, but intermittently so...Like everything about this production there's a 'yes-but' even for the praiseworthy ideas." Full Review
“The only question is whether a new frame or filter works on its own terms. And with this thoughtful but often schematic and disjointed 'Cherry Orchard,' the answer is: only in spurts...Godwin works well with several excellent actors…All the actors' bodies are in uncommonly strong dialogue with each other…By stylizing Chekhov's world, the human stakes and basic relationships are drained of power. ‘The Cherry Orchard’ can survive harder ax blows, but this attempt is just so much peeled bark.” Full Review
“It takes Chekhov at his word in classifying it as a comedy. Too much so, as it happens, in a mixed-bag of a production that despite some high points, struggles but fails to achieve a consistent tone…Much as I admire Karam’s work, he and Godwin conspire to score some contemporary political points while setting the action in a vague anytime…Too much of the show has a devil-may-care antic quality that not only leaves Lane at sea but also misuses other good actors." Full Review
"The play’s dynamic mash-up of genres is part of its lasting appeal. But Roundabout Theatre Company’s jumbled revival is neither particularly funny nor affecting...From the outset, it’s clear that director Simon Godwin intends to milk Chekhov's play for comedy, supplementing ironic and outright funny lines with pratfalls and sight gags worthy of a farce. But when the plot calls for an abrupt shift in tone, as it often does, emotions mostly fall flat." Full Review
"From the start, the Roundabout Theatre Company’s loud, broad revival makes no attempt to find a tragicomic balance...Not everyone seems to have received director Simon Godwin’s go-big-or-go-home memo. Joel Grey is indescribably endearing, and quietly funny. Celia Keenan Bolger is giving a beautifully understated performance. As for Lane, her performance, still a bit tentative, falls somewhere in between...Perrineau just looks uncomfortable. As do too many other people on stage." Full Review
“An alternately despairing and giddy production…Roundabout’s 'Cherry Orchard' is visually in the past, but aurally in the present. The result is a mixed bag lacking symbolic resonance: The audience gets neither the tragic grandeur nor the comedy of the aristocracy seeing its dominance end. Rather, this is a portrait of one clueless family losing their fortune because they don’t know how to save a buck.” Full Review
“Despite bold design choices and solid performances, there's something a little too precious about this version, leaving us cold and yearning for a stronger perspective. Chekhov's prescience only politely brushes against us rather than punching us in the gut, as it should...Unfortunately, this approach has resulted in a series of half choices that only serve to dilute the play and keep the audience at arm's length.” Full Review
"No one sets out to under-serve Chekhov. The problem is that all hands must be seeking to serve in the same way. Here that does not appear to be the case...The large Roundabout cast often does well enough giving sharp physical life to individual characters...But, lacking a coherent group style, the ensemble nature of the play feels ragged, as if drastically under-rehearsed...The result feels more like an engaging gloss of 'The Cherry Orchard' rather than the thing itself." Full Review
"Chekhov’s final play and a timeless tragicomedy about how people choose whether or not to respond to a changing world proves to be less powerful than usual in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s disjointed and flat revival...Godwin’s production is disjointed and wholly ineffective...It’s nice to have three live musicians but their featured presence can be distracting. Performers in smaller roles work too hard for laughs, adding to the inconsistency." Full Review
"Director Simon Godwin’s production remains hopelessly misguided in many ways...Godwin directs too many of the early scenes as if he were helming a sitcom on ABC’s Wednesday night lineup...Stephen Karam further muddies the waters with his new translation. Not only is it too contemporary in its language, but he takes a surprisingly unsubtle approach in bringing Chekhov’s underlying theme of class differences to the forefront." Full Review
“Godwin and Karam are all broad strokes. They’re also often messy in their execution, with several supporting characters wandering about in undefined relationships with the principals…Godwin’s ‘Orchard’ isn’t one of those nights in the theater where each actor appears to be performing in another production. He’s got them all on the same page, but it’s one ripped from musical theater…Godwin indulges in muddled casting.” Full Review
“In 'The Humans,' Karam balances humor and melancholy with exquisite naturalism. The subtly shaped text is light on narrative but alive with a compassionate sense of very real people...What could be more Chekhovian? That makes the thudding failure of Karam's new version all the more deflating. The bulk of the blame should be apportioned to Godwin's production, which is clumsily directed and unattractively designed...What's missing, primarily, is the fundamental element of pathos." Full Review
"In an effort to infuse relevance and energy in what sometimes can come across as a dusty warhorse, Godwin pushes his stellar company to mug like maniacs without establishing connections. With few exceptions, I had a hard time believing these people even knew each other much less that they were related or intimate friends...There are too many wrong notes to make the evening complete...A strong final 20 minutes does not save this 'Orchard' from an over-pruning director." Full Review
See it if If you enjoy Chekhov and can relate to the struggles this family goes through emotionally and psychologically from losing their land.
Don't see it if If you are not into Chekhov style writing.
See it if You enjoy classic family dramas turned contemporary
Don't see it if You are not a believer in morphing classic works for current times or prefer singing, dancing musicals
See it if you've never read/saw Chekov, interested in a good story, you like classical plays but think they mite be stodgy & moldy
Don't see it if you have a short attention span, are a stickler for standard interpretations, you believe in all negative reviews
See it if You want to see this classic play adapted by Stephen Karam (The Humans). Fun to see so many actors familiar from TV, movies & theater.
Don't see it if You don't like Chekhov and/or have seen this play too many times. If not this is a great version to see.
See it if Despite reviews hating this adaptation, I enjoyed the performance's staging and performances. Play's inherently confusion is made fun.
Don't see it if You like your Russian plays to be as endlessly boring and confusing as usual. This is quirky. Enjoy the fun.
See it if You like Chekhov and you want a different take on a classic or if you want to see great acting and beautiful staging.
Don't see it if You think classics need to be presented in one way and one way only. If you didn't like Annie Baker's UNCLE VANYA, don't see this.
See it if you are a fan of Chekhov. The new translation is bracing and modern and effective, even if it's not fully supported by the direction.
Don't see it if you're not in the mood to sympathize with wealthy people who made unwise choices and are in danger of losing everything.
See it if you like Diane Lane and new takes on classics. I am one of the very few who actually really enjoyed this version. Loved the set/lighting.
Don't see it if You like your classics preserved, you tend toward comedies.
See it if If you love Chekov or the socio-economic, waning aristocracy and class warfare themes associated with Russian Literature from the 1900's.
Don't see it if You want breezy.. It kind of has a high barrier for enjoyment that you'll need to work for with focus, patience & a little imagination.
See it if you're up for a flawed if fresh take on Chekov that harks back to his original, pumping air, contemporaneity & modern relevance into it.
Don't see it if you're expecting the usual serious often tragic, dry-witted very Russian Chekov, lacking farce or comedy; don't like fresh takes on classics
See it if You enjoy Chekhov's work, period pieces, and a diverse cast in a dark dramedy. Optimism and nievety blind the mistress from the inevitable
Don't see it if You have a short attention span, want something light or expect to be entertained by a standard musical or comedy.
See it if you enjoy a new take on an old work, bringing relevant themes to the forefront and reworking the material for a contemporary audience.
Don't see it if you have a very specific idea of what a production of the play should be when you walk in.
See it if You love Chekhov's work. It is a solid rendition of the piece, and the supporting cast are the true stars of the show.
Don't see it if You find Chekhov boring. This production is a solid interpretation of the show and involves some stellar costumes and performances.
See it if you would like to see a classic tale re-told in a new, modern take. A well acted play that updates the "lingo" and sensibilities of 1908
Don't see it if you are a traditionalist. The modernization of the play leads to a great deal of comedy. John Glover especially shines in this regard.
See it if you love Chekov. This is a flawed production, missing the heart and pathos of other productions. Acting was excellent, but directing wasn't.
Don't see it if you are used to feeling deeply at the end of the play or if you like to really think about the class issues involved. This misses the mark
See it if you love Chekov, don't mind a production that takes risks (and fails at a few), love good acting (Lane, Grey and Glover shine).
Don't see it if Only like traditional productions of the classics (e.g. insist on Chekov with samovars); worth seeing just for the musicians
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