Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Cherry Orchard

I think BAM's Bridge Project is an interesting one. Not so much because I care about the differing performing styles of British and American actors or anything like that--frankly I don't know enough about acting styles to know what difference it makes--but because it's an opportunity to see good (or in the case of some, like Simon Russell Beale, great) actors in new productions of classic plays. And hopefully some of those productions will be fantastic. 

The Cherry Orchard was more good than fantastic. The performances ranged from good to excellent, but the direction was heavy-handed at times, which really wasn't necessary. The play is from 1904. You don't really have to be particularly knowledgeable about history to realize that the changes that occur in the play are related to much bigger changes down the road. So the overdone foreshadowing seems entirely unnecessary. I also wasn't in love with the set, which didn't really provide a sense of place for the most part. It seemed like it could be anywhere. 

What you end up with is a nice looking production (the costumes, in particular, are gorgeous, although I'll cop to a general fondness for clothes from that era) that's well acted and funny where it's supposed to be funny and tragic in its characters inability to cope with the world as it is. All the boxes have been checked, I guess you could say. And yet in the end it doesn't become transcendent in the way that great theater can. 

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