Selling the cherry orchard? 0

Andrius Jevsejevas, 2013-11-02
Performance of A.Areima "The Cherry Orchard"

In brief: The article is dedicated to the newest premiere of Kaunas National Drama Theatre, “The Cherry Orchard” directed by Artūras Areima according to Anton Chekhov. The author states that the performance “At Lower Depths” of Oskaras Koršunovas staged according to Maxim Gorky became a kind of key to understanding this performance. Still, this key did not justify all the inaccuracies, incoherence, obscure interpretations and other kind of faults of the director’s work.

The majority of people familiar with works of A. Chekhov most probably know the dispute of K.Stanislavsky and the author of “The Cherry Orchard” regarding the genre of the play. Chekhov offered to call the “Cherry Orchard” a comedy or even farce while Stanislavsky saw a deep tragic note in this work. The information campaign of “The Cherry Orchard” of NKDT was focused on this polemics of two artists. The genre became the first category which the creators of the performance did not define clearly and did not develop in an articulated manner.

Looking formally, the genre of the performance could be named as tragic farce. We could agree that in the world with no absolute values, no religious or social hierarchy, where the man becomes a suffering animal (such a world is created by the director), pure tragedy or pure comedy is impossible. Still, in the author’s opinion, one of the main problems of “The Cherry Orchard” of Areima is that tragic does not match farce here completely. These two elements seem to function separately and cause many obscurities as regards the dramaturgy of the performance.

Also, Areima refuses (or sees no point) to develop and deepen the drama lines of separate characters and tries to crowd them into one piece of grotesque dough. The greatest strength of the young director, his talent to create along with the actor, becomes one of the essential flaws in “The Cherry Orchard” this time. The trouble is that there are so many unnecessary ingredients here and the actors have so much freedom that the dough cannot be kneaded in any way.

Areima neutralises the dramatic situation and enlarges and deforms images of characters. Grotesque pathos replaces lyrical pathetics, and hyperbole predominates in the arsenal of lyrical means. While in the text of Chekhov the characters crying frequently out of sorrow, happiness, pain or love remind of their comic nature, the circus of heroes of the staging in Kaunas comes swaying so violently that any note about tragedy is impossible.

The director addresses the viewer in the last sentence of the performance programme: “I would not sell “The Cherry Orchard”!” A real confusion. “The Cherry Garden” (in quotation marks) is sold not only at the cash desk of KNDT – it was “sold” even on real estate advertisement pages! Meanwhile, the cherry orchard (without quotation marks), to which the debt-laden owners arrive does not belong to them. All there is left is to gesticulate along with Lopachin – a cad with artist’s hands. And the director A. Areima, whose posture is more or less artistic at the moment but the hands are rough.


Photos of NKDT

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