Cherry Orchard Hardcover – Jan 1 1998
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“Senelick . . . has done his job as scholar and translator nearly to perfection.” — Weekly Standard --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
"Pam Gems' first major success was Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi staged in 1976. Among her other best-known works are Piaf (1978), Camille (1984), The Danton Affair (1986), The Blue Angel (1991), The Snow Palace (1997) and Stanley (1997), based on the life of the painter Stanley Spencer, first produced at the RNT. Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) has been described as 'the father of modern theatre'. Most of his early plays were traditional historical dramas. After 'Peer Gynt', a fairy-tale fantasy in verse, Ibsen wrote the rest of his plays in prose, and came to be regarded as the great Naturalist dramatist. " --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The play takes place on the estate of Madame Ranevsky, the matriarch of an aristocratic Russian family that has fallen on financial hard times. She faces the possible loss of her family's magnificent cherry orchard.
The play is populated with interesting characters: Lopakhin, a wealthy neighbor whose father was the serf of Madame Ranevsky's father; Firs, an aged servant who longs for the "old days"; Trophimof, a student with lofty ideas; and more. There is a great deal of conflict among the characters.
"The Cherry Orchard" is about people dealing with very personal conflicts and crises while larger socioeconomic changes are going on around them. The orchard of the title is a memorable image that is well handled by Chekhov. The play contains some really effective dialogue, such as old Firs' reflection on the apparently lost art of making dried cherries. This is definitely one classic play that remains compelling.
What saves 'Orchard' is the merciful fact that it was written by Chekhov and not Shaw. Whatever his overall conception of the play's weighty themes - the decline of the aristocracy; the new economic power of former serfs etc. - Chekhov is simply incapable of writing mere mouthpieces, and every character, no matter how monstrous, limited, avaricious, delusive or paralysed (in action or mind), is suffused with the kind of life (flawed, egocentric, perhaps, but human) for which he had a unique, sympathetic, though always honestly satirical eye. it is a tough task to make an audience empathise with a group of silly former slave-owners, but death, loss, change, poverty, personal failure and disappointment are things we have all felt, and we would probably be lying if we couldn't find something of ourselves in most of the characters (I, worryingly, found myself most drawn to the snobbish, immature, enndearingly gauche Gaev).
There are too many emotionally loaded, privileged and enigmatic moments for characters to be simply straw targets, and the play is shot through with poignant autobiographical resonances (it was Chekhov's last, written when he was terminally ill).Read more ›
What I like most about Chekhov is that he doesn't simplify his characters. He's a realist in this sense. Lopahkin and Trophimof each have admirable and detestable characteristics, just like you and I. While it may be set in the tumultuous period prior to the Russian revolution, the ideas and the discussions this play provokes are timeless.
Except for the little boy drowning, I fail to see the tragedy in this story. The aristocrats (Lyubov and her brother and daughters) complain about how the house is so important to them and yet they abandoned it. Details about how in the past they used to sell jams and such, but then stopped out of nowhere without knowing why, makes them appear aloof. Same with spending the last day playing billiards and having musicians over. Meanwhile, the workers, who have nowhere to go, talk about business and turning the orchard into real estates possibilities. When the orchard is to be sold the family doesn't even attend the meeting.
It appears that if the aristocrats don't pay attention to their income properties, the workers will.
For me, the real strength of "The Cherry Orchard" is its unwillingness to come down propagandistically on one side of any issue. The intellectual and eternal student Trophimof levels a critique against capitalism, but one must bear in mind that it is capitalism that engineers the upward rise of the erstwhile peasant (and now landowner) Lopakhin (and, in the context of this play's being labeled a "comedy," I think Chekhov codes this rise as a conditionally good thing). Trophimof in fact seems to be granted a great deal of authority by the play, as he complains about the lazy intelligentsia and the useless aristocracy, but, sure enough, not wanting to make things too simple or simplistic, Chekhov has Madame Ranevsky put him in his place. If this is a commentary on turn-of-the-century Russian society and politics (and I think we must read it as such), it is a very balanced, multi-perspectival and complex one.
Even the criticism of the play's upper classes--the focus on Gayef's irrational obsession with billiards or Pishtchik's naive assumption that, when he is in the deepest of financial troubles, something will always come along to bail him out--is delicately balanced against the workaholic insensitivity of Lopakhin, who leaves Varya Ranevsky stranded at the play's end and expecting a proposal of marriage from him that is hinted at but never comes.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
As much as I enjoy Chekhov, I'm not a big fan of THE CHERRY ORCHARD; it never made much sense to me. Read morePublished on April 23 2001 by tvtv3
Chekhov's 'The Cherry Orchard' is an excellent, layered composition from a notoriously prolific writer. Read morePublished on April 17 2001 by Barry David Gould
As I read this play, my family is in the process of moving a thousand miles away from the farm where I grew up. Read morePublished on Oct. 31 2000 by William Krischke
"How should one live?" is the fundamental question driving most of Chekhov's work, and it is very overtly laid bare in The Cherry Orchard. Read morePublished on July 27 2000 by Yaumo Gaucho
The cherry orchard is symbolic of the old order in rural Russia, and Chekhov's short play illustrates the social transformation started in the 19th century in a simple and... Read morePublished on July 23 2000 by Knut Oyangen
I recently saw a production of this and I was moved to tears. Though this play is too sophisticated for many, I found the characters real/alive/and breathing. Read morePublished on July 20 2000 by David
This is the first play I've read by Anton Chekhov and I am very interested in Russian culture, so it was good play to read about the fall of the Russian aristocracy. Read morePublished on June 29 2000 by Steffi P