The Department of Theatre and Dance performed Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” at the Young Theatre on Friday night.
Set in 1904, this play is not someone’s typical mainstream drama or comedy as it’s not as amusing compared to well-known theater performances, unless one is interested in classic theater or history.
The structure of the Young Theatre was spacious and furnished with a wooden main floor, below a wooden rocking horse, chair, desk and bookcase for the nursery in Act l. On house left and house right were tall skinny tree trunks with branches but no leaves.
A huge rectangular canvas featured a painted setting with faded clouds and bloomed cherry orchard trees that gave off a peaceful atmosphere. A projector was used to transition settings in each act.
Cherry trees bloomed on a cold spring day in 1904 as Russian aristocrat Liubov Ranyevskaya returns home, grieving the loss of her premature son. Because of debt, Ranyevskaya’s family is forced to sell their property and rebuild their lives and riches elsewhere.
Five minutes before the play began, viewers can hear the beautiful sound of a violin and piano. Ernest Salem and Alison Edwards performed the original song, “Here the Frailest Leaves of Me,” by Pamela Madsen, which created anticipation as to what the play would bring.
In Act l, the audience heard the sound of a train surrounding the entire theater. The humorous sound of Semyonov Yepikhdov’s (Caleb Gibson) boots brought comedy to the genre-bending play. Performers entered from all corners of the theater, so viewers constantly looked left and right.
Dunyasha (Aryana Hamzehloo) did an excellent job at portraying an emotional, clingy person who is in love with Yasha (Donovan Rogers), a misogynist man who doesn’t love her back.
Ranyevskaya (Isobel Beaman), the owner of the estate and cherry orchards, is also the main character who wore red lipstick, with a long burgundy dress styled in flashy jewelry. During Ranyevskaya’s tragic scenes, her sadness was not effective.
The character Firs (Diego Noll) is an 87-year-old manservant. Noll pulled off a realistic elder look accompanied with bad posture, slow-paced walking, a grey wig, a cane and the raspy sound of an extremely old person.
Bernard Herner, who plays the businessman Cruz Yermolai Lopakhin, shows off his character’s superiority with a cocky attitude. His long coat with faux fur symbolizes wealth, but his horrendous boots were too distracting to ignore.
The performers worked well together. They reacted at the same time, showed the correct emotion and presented intimate relationships with physical kisses on the cheek, coupled with hugs and eye contact. Viewers can see how loving Ranyevskaya was and how much she loved her daughters Anya (Leianna Weaver) and Varya (Darby Sorich).
The way the female characters’ makeup and hair were done clearly differentiated their ages. The middle-aged women wore bold lipsticks and the younger women wore natural looks. Overall, the costuming, design and acting were splendid, despite a few noticeable hiccups.
The male characters’ ages were also well defined because of the wigs. The older characters wore colorless wigs with detailed bald spots.
Overall, the Department of Theatre and Dance’s production of “The Cherry Orchard” effectively delivers the struggle of getting over a memory by moving on to a better future.
“The Cherry Orchard” runs from March 8 through 24. at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.