The Cherry Orchard is an interesting portrayal of the socio-economic upheaval at the beginning of the Russian revolution of 1917 and is being shown at Nottingham’s Play House 100 years on.
It depicts a formerly wealthy land owner in early 20th century Russia on the verge of the breakout of the Soviet Union. She returns to her childhood family estate with her entourage of family members and friends as the bank threatens to foreclose and sell the land and its cherry orchard to pay back the outstanding interest on the mortgage. The play transpires in the now dilapidated family home as she and the family toil with the heart wrenching decision of selling the land with its beloved cherry orchard to developers in attempt to raise money to save the home. Even though she has a wealthy friend, played by John Elkington, who maintains his advice to sell throughput the play, the lady of the house is unable to bring herself to face the dawning reality of what she must do.
Torn between her past and the future, she allows the sale of her land at auction as the family leave for pastures new. This play, written by playwright Anton Chekhov in 1903 first shown on the 17th January 1904, was his last play. It portrays the end of an era, the decline of the power of the aristocracy and the birth of the new communist future the country. Written shortly before the revolution, The Cherry Orchard is considered by many to be one of the greatest of all plays. Chekhov’s comedy captures a world on the brink of social confusion. And 100 years on we can all probably understand what that must have felt like. ‘The Cherry Orchard’ is playing at the Nottingham Playhouse up until Saturday 18th November.
Tickets available on their webpage here
Review by James Toomey