THE CHERRY ORCHARDCategory: Theatre
Presented by the National Theatre on 24 May, 1973.
Directed by Michael Blakemore, Settings by Alan Tagg
Michael Blakemore’s Cherry Orchard has all the solid English virtues. It is well-spoken, intelligent, unravelling, direct and handsome, but it is also emotionally callow and ideologically wan. By “emotionally callow”, I mean that whe,reas Chekhov’s characters loose tears, erupt with laughter or throb with sadness, the English cast squelch tears, deflect laughter and grow sullen with sadness. There is something preposterously English about Michael Hordern’s Gayev turning his back to conceal his tears before leaving his shuttered estate; as if the feeling had somehow crept into the play by mistake ‘ and the actor, using all his British expertise, was skilfully coping with its intrusion; whereas the departure from the house, the effusion of life at the party while the auction is taking place, the fond homecoming — all of these events call for tornados of sentiment rather than trickles of feeling.
When this Cherry Orchard draws to a close [...] it never begins to suggest the loss of a way-of-life and the onset of a completely different social dispensation.
(Plays and Players, July, 1973)