The cherry orchard consists of three trees made of metal tubes that can be moved on rods and suspended by imagined crystal chandeliers. Among them there are a lot of garden chairs made of woven plastic. Fernando Ribeiro’s collection design wasn’t the only unusual feature of this Chekhov co-production, which was on display in Hall E at Vienna’s Museumsquartier until Sunday and garnered a great deal of applause on Thursday.
The future director of the Avignon Festival, Portuguese Thiago Rodriguez, brought this production to Avignon Coeur d’Honor last summer. It depends on the variety, so it takes some time to get used to the personal horoscope. The fact that the new wealthy merchant Lopakhin is played by a black man (Adama Diop also plays the game announcer) gives a story about the old cherry orchard, which represents a corrupt, powerless and increasingly poor class of property owners, universal validity and fuel. As Lopakhin sold the cherry orchard himself at auction in order to distribute it to holiday homes: here, where his father and grandfather were slaves, will now be the master of himself.
The brother and daughters of landowner Ranguskaja are also people of color – but she herself is white. Not just any, but French acting star Isabelle Huppert. You get a masterfully theatrical show, with the treetop platform serving as a train and music platform for a two-piece set. After five years abroad, she literally moves to the estate where she grew up. She is judged with lavish behavior and obvious anxiety, as if money were nothing. But the legacy is broken – and she can’t bring herself to the business model that Lupachin suggests to her: “Too vulgar!”
Instead of the usual bleakness, Rodriguez’ production, which runs for more than two hours without a break, is downright cheerful and busy, including the occasional musical interludes. Glowing chandeliers hanging in the trees give the “cherry garden” the feel of a quirky garden party, as some guests approach. However, many of the little life tragedies that Chekhov worked on in his play don’t really come close. The director doesn’t leave his group much time for detail in the two-man scenes either.
For this, the permanent student Trofimov is allowed to make a revolutionary speech, he even received applause from Ranevskaya and Lopakhin – for the committed presentation, but not for its content. However, the stage group knows best. One of their songs is called “Ça va changer!” Will change! In fact, a lot has changed in the 118 years since the play was first introduced. Unfortunately not for the better.
(Service – “La Cerisaie / The Cherry Orchard”, in Hall E in the Museum Quarter. Other shows: May 27, 28, 29)
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