THEATRE REVIEW: The Cherry Orchard ★★★
The Cherry Orchard
Sherman Theatre, Cardiff
Tuesday 31st October 2017
For my first trip to this beautiful theatre, I decided that I would come and see what the critics are giving critical acclaim with 5*s all round, Gary Owen's The Cherry Orchard, adapted from Anton Chekhov 1904’s production. I must say that I was very let down though after watching this performance, finding that the lack of energy may have been the problem,which shouldn't be the case when you have to entertain an audience in three hours!
In Owen's version, this play is set in Pembrokeshire 1982. Now, I'm not pinning down the fact I dislike plays that veer off the main part of their production to be the reason why I also may have felt the actual production to feel dated, but it really made me wonder just why this particular classic was in need of being updated to a more present decade. I did however enjoy certain parts of the production, from Kevin Treacy who created a harsh white light for the show which aims directly horizontal from the stage to create an entrance and exit which also doubles as a landing light shone across the stage, which sits perfectly with Kenny Miller’s design of the kitchen/ sofa setting diagonally on the stage, which is a fitting touch to the Sherman’s traverse stage.
Richard Mylan portrayed Ceri, a role miles away from his role of Paul in this year’s standout piece of theatre from the Royal Court, Killology. His conviction to the character of Ceri allows him to completely stand out on stage even when he isn’t always the focus, which is the same that could be said for Alexandria Riley, a newcomer to the scene after recently graduating from RWCMD and who really makes her presence and talent shine on stage in this adaption - hopefully this will be the start of many things I get to witness her in. The rest of the cast do give a commendably effort in their portrayals, with Denise Black giving a convincing and stubborn turn to Rainey, the mother of the family, and Simon Armstrong who played Uncle Gabriel, who was a warm character who you couldn’t help but love.
Overall, though filled with genuinely likable characters with a whole array of quirks, Owen’s version of The Cherry Orchard doesn’t hit the spot when bring it up to date from it’s 1904 original production.