The Cherry Orchard: Beyond the Truth @ C Venues (Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015) Review

Pop and quirk; bright lights, electric costume and pink hair, welcome to the contemporary Eastern theatre company, Theatre Margot. The stage is bare, bar a black door at the back; the door that symbolises a bleak view from the Cherry Orchard.

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Theatre Margot has been around for 11 years, originated in Korea, it consists solely of female artists. The company values the importance of individualisation in modern society; they theatrically represent this theme by breaking down relationship barriers between stage and audience. The play begins, “Mum! The Cherry Orchard is up for auction!” screams Varya, who progressively comes forward into the audience, reaching out to clean the faces and glasses of the watchers, accusing her victims of being “dirty”.

We are then introduced to the Mum, Ranevskaya, who is an eccentric lady with thick, pink lipstick; she prefers to turn away and attend to her lipstick than to face the fact that she must move forward and leave the Cherry Orchard behind. Then enters the daughter Anya, who is always, slightly angry. They are journeying back home, from a trip to Paris; it takes me a little time to realise this, as the bodily movements and facial expressions are so extreme in emotion and angles, that I find myself captivated by these shocking articulations and cyber infused freeze frames.

The ambient, realistic sounds serve to guide the audience along the movement journey of the characters, such as the screeching and jolting train ride. The body becomes a language, heightening importance on physical shapes to translate meaning, rather than the written script. All inner transitions have an outer physical assertion; in an almost liberation of the repressed, these inner impulses explode the stage. Bodily language is always universal; so its claimed interest serves the actors and the play immensely, as they are international, yet still a prominently Eastern company.

The play bases around the timeline of characters Ranevskaya, Anya and Varya, who display the changes preceding and succeeding the auction of the beloved Cherry Orchard, which they live in. Each character has a colour, a style and a string of obvious objectives that are repeated throughout the performance. For example Varya wants to tell her mother that the Cherry Orchard is up for auction, Ranevskaya wants to stay ignorant to what Varya is trying to tell her, thus rejecting change. Anya wants to indulge in the fact that she has had no sleep.

The play has an overall technocratic and fluorescent style. Three women take on very extreme characterisations; the actress who plays Anya innately has a very feminine face, body and look, but moves and grunts like a Winston Churchill/ Charlie Chaplin figurine; which comes as a fantastic juxtaposition showing the contrasted expectation of how it “should” be, to how it is. The characters are easy to recognise, Vanya is the diligent worker, perhaps more prominent in the Eastern tradition, obeying her mothers commandments and finding work in every nook and cranny. The mother, Ranevskaya, has a shallow personality, and values the surface of herself, not wanting to admit the shadow that prevails her, that her home must be sold, and inevitable changes must come as its consequence. Anya is a little harder to understand, her disposition is the rather spoiled daughter, and she wants marriages that will giver her money. But she admits that she does not like boys.

Each character has an inner neglected secret, and the ignored secret makes the character eventually twitch with its repression. However, once admitted the twitch stops, for example Vanya’s twitch only stops when she admits that she does not need to work.

It is a thought provoking show, daring and brave in a theatrical dimension of a traditional yet pixelated environment, with jumbo attention to bodily detail. The classic tale of The Cherry Orchard has been modernised for the increasingly globalised world of techno-mentality. It has an urban aura, which seems to request the audience to move with the change ahead, instead of turning blind to it; to listen to our individual inner secrets, which is what the three characters in the end chapter are compelled to do, once the Cherry Orchard has been sold. 4/5

Review written by RATHE.

The Cherry Orchard: Beyond the Truth is currently showing at C Venues at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival until Monday 31st August. For more information on the production, visit here…

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