Review by Carol Verburg
12th Dec 00
There's no substitute for competence! The extraordinary Redgraves, with able assistance from director Trevor Nunn, adaptor David Lan, a fine supporting cast, and the National's skilled production team, make this the most compelling "Cherry Orchard" I've ever seen. In the wrong hands, Chekhov's depiction of upper-class Russian ennui can be eye-glazing. Here, every moment overflows with poignance and nuance. You know from the opening scene, where Ranevskya and her entourage return to not just the home but the nursery of their childhood (at one point, Corin Redgrave absently climbs onto his old rocking horse) that this is a deeply informed, insightful production. Each character is vividly drawn and thoroughly plausible; the tensions between characters hum like plucked strings. For once we really believe these people have spent their whole lives together in this place. The technical support of ingenious sets, gorgeous costumes, and effective lighting add up to a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts -- as a play should be. If you love "The Cherry Orchard," or if you're dubious about Chekhov and probably will never see it again, this production is one not to miss.