Sunday, 28 March 2010

Sergei Ovcharov: The Cherry Orchard -Сад (2008)

Cast: Anna Vartanian, Igor Yasulovich, Roman Ageev, Dmitry Podnozov, Svetlana Shchedrin, Boris Dragilev
Based on a book of Anton Chekhov's Cherry Orchard.

Sergei Ovcharov’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard (Vishnevyi sad, 1904) can be viewed as a “playwright’s cut.” Every production of Chekhov’s classic has to take into account the debate over its meaning that erupted after its premiere in January 1904. Chekhov famously viewed his work as a farce while Konstantin Stanislavsky, the Director of the Moscow Art Theater, declared it was a drama. When The Cherry Orchard debuted at the theater, it did so under Stanislavsky’s direction. After reading the work, he wrote to Chekhov: “This is not a comedy, nor a farce as you have written, this is a tragedy, whatever escape toward a better life you open up in the last act. … I wept like a woman, I wanted to control myself but I couldn’t (qtd. in Loehlin 4).” Stanislavsky staged the play accordingly. When he heard about it, Chekhov was incensed, firing back: “What Nemirovich [the co-director] and Stanislavsky see in my play definitely isn’t what I wrote and I’m ready to swear by anything you like that neither of them has read through my play carefully even once (Ibid).” The battle lines were drawn. Subsequent stagings would have to take one side or the other. Most sided with Stanislavsky.
reviewed by Stephen M. Norris © 2009 in KinoKultura

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