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Galleon Theatre Company presents

The Cherry Orchard


by Anton Chekhov


Directed by Bruce Jamieson


Producer- Alice de Sousa


Costume Design – Eleanor Wdowski


Scenery Design – Sara Gianfrate


Lighting and Sound Editing – Robert Gooch


Greenwich Playhouse


30 March - 25 April



A review by James Buxton for EXTRA! EXTRA!

The Cherry Orchard is Chekhov's last play and his most autobiographical. It tells the story of an aristocratic Russian woman and her family who are unwilling to destroy their beloved cherry orchard to develop the land into homes. Despite having to mortgage their estate and an auction looming, they fail to realize the urgency of the situation and take the advice of Lophakin, the son of a former serf who has made his own fortune.

Galleon Theatre provides a faithful production of Chekhov's play with solid acting throughout. The simple set designed by Sara Gianfrate, of a white backdrop with red petals strewn on the floor, a chez longue and garden furniture work well in this black box theatre. The sparse set allows focus to rest directly on the actors and emphasises the decline of the bourgeoisie and the rise of the middle classes.

The acting was very professional throughout, with the mother, Ranyevskaia, (Maggie Daniels) giving a fully embodied performance of a generous woman accustomed to the finer things in life, unable to realize the gravity of their financial situation. Daniels played the role with an air of stately refinement, conveying real affection for her family - she cannot bring herself to develop the orchard to settle her debts as her nostalgia and pride get the better of her sense.

Lophakin, Robert Paul, played the self-made son of a serf with reserved, determination. Paul conveyed a strong sense of a man painfully aware of his poor, social background but privately proud of his own entrepreneurial success to escape it. His desire to marry the eldest sister, Varia, (Suzanne Goldberg) to legitimize his status in society was portrayed with an awkward reservation as he is unable to show her any real affection. While Goldberg maintained a prim, conservative, sensibility as the only character who understood the direness of her family's situation, she displayed a maturity beyond her years.

Their uncomfortable pairing was counter balanced by the young upstart, Trofimov, (Nic Drake) and his love for the young daughter, Ania, (Clare McMahon). Drake's idealistic attitude was well acted and the serious belief he held for his free-thinking principles contrasted well with the money minded Lophakin.

The relationships between the servants Yasha, (Ashley David), and Dooniasha, (Fleur Shepherd) showed how even relationships between the servants were full of the snobbery and awareness of social status that informed the bourgeoisie. David played the role of Yasha with mischievous glee and ironic snobbery, enjoying teasing the innocent and affectionate Dooniasha, toying with her love for him. Shepherd acted with true passion, suppressed by her role as a servant. 

The subtle lighting was sensitive to the changes in mood as the play progressed. The costumes were well considered for each actor, from the elaborate bejewelled white dress of the mother to the Russian servant garb of Yasha, each actor had suitable attire that reflected their position in society. 

Galleon theatre has done justice to a classic play, well directed by Bruce Jamieson; it highlights the social concerns of the play, concerns that may have lost the edge that made the play relevant in Chekhov's time.  The sense of aristocratic ennui and misplaced self assured faith in maintaining an aristocratic lifestyle, created a relaxed pace that at times lost energy. The acting was of a high quality but at times if felt a little self consciously theatrical.  For a theatre company celebrating two decades of work, the choice of play is a safe bet that does not push any boundaries and although faithful and well acted, runs the risk of being a little too comfortable with this classic play.

Call: 020 8858 9256


Greenwich Playhouse
Greenwich Station Forecourt
189 Greenwich High Road
SE10, 8JA

Tues-Sat @ 7.30pm - Sun @ 4pm






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