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18 August 2014


The Cherry Orchard
Acting Gymnasium
Theatro Technis, London
Monday 18th August 2014

Chekhov's final work is given a contemporary twist in James O'Donnell's thought-provoking adaptation for the Acting Gymnasium's short rep season at Theatro Technis.

Tracing the decline of a wealthy landowner's fall into poverty and the auction of her estate, which includes a famed cherry orchard, the play is a political and social comment on a Russia that is going through a significant change in its class system and wealth hierarchy.  This adaptation brings the piece into a modern setting, in a society where the class system has a very different impact on society, giving a fresh look at this classic story.

The adaptation brings out the many comic qualities of the script, with references to modern culture - including the use of mobile phones and references to Twitter - included alongside the original text.  The performances work to maintain the humour throughout, embellishing the piece's tragi-comic intention without losing sight of the tragic juxtaposition of the protagonist's financial and emotional plight.  The shining performance in this production came from Shane Noone's energetic portrayal of the wealthy ex-surf Ermolai.  He achieved a layered depth to this complex and naturally unlikable character that drove the plot forward.  His intelligent characterisation showed an empathic side to the ambitious young man to which a modern audience could entirely relate.

Some intelligent choices of lighting, designed by Luis Alvares, and considered use of sound especially in the pre-show and interval, add another level of interest and comedy for the engrossed audience.  An unusual and enthusiastic take on this classic piece, performed with energy and flair.