Theater Review: 'The Cherry Orchard' -- 3 stars
The Cherry Orchard
Few, if any, productions of Chekhov's masterful tragicomedy "The Cherry Orchard" make a point of actually showing you the family's prized cherry orchard, which Madame Ranevskaya refuses to cut down in order to raise money to save the estate on which it sits. But the setting is usually depicted as a serene, valuable location.
While Andrei Belgrader's new production at Classic Stage Company uses very little scenery besides an oval-shaped platform, it does paint the estate as gloomy, gray and cold. If that's the case, it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to bid on it at the auction that eventually occurs.
Still, this is a focused, enjoyable production marked by a strong cast including Dianne Wiest (Ranevskaya), John Turturro (Lopakhin), Daniel Davis (Gaev) and Alvin Epstein (Fiers).
Belgrader convincingly blends the play's light humor with its tragic dimensions and its realism with some playful theatricality. The production runs just a bit over two hours - which is unusual for a play that can easily last three if directed in a heavy-handed manner.
Wiest, who starred in Chekhov's "The Seagull" at Classic Stage, plays Ranev-
skaya as an innocent but very difficult child.
Turturro brings an animated, comical spirit to Lopakhin, the former peasant who ends up buying the estate for himself after the family refuses his help.
Epstein makes for a mumbling, charmingly incoherent Firs, the aged family servant who longs for the days of serfdom and is left to wither away when the family finally leaves its home.
If you go: "The Cherry Orchard" plays at Classic Stage Company through Dec. 30. 136 E. 13th St., 212-352-3101, classicstage.org.