Review Roundup: THE CHERRY ORCHARD Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!

By: Oct. 16, 2016
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Roundabout Theatre Company presents Diane Lane, Chuck Cooper, Tavi Gevinson, John Glover, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Harold Perrineau and Joel Grey in a new production of The Cherry Orchard, which opens tonight and will play as a limited engagement through December 4, 2016 on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre (227 West 42nd Street).

BroadwayWorld has all the reviews for you below as they roll in. Let's see what the critics had to say:

Ben Brantley, New York Times: Though it stars that fine actress Diane Lane, is staged by the rising British director Simon Godwin and features a new adaptation by the seriously gifted young dramatist Stephen Karam ("The Humans"), this frenzied, flashy take on one family's mortgage crisis may be the most clueless interpretation of Chekhov I have seen. And, yes, that includes high school, college and community theater productions. So, as one of Chekhov's characters, who know from dashed hopes, might put it, "What happened?" But no matter the angles from which you examine Mr. Godwin's production - and I've tried so many I have a neck cramp - it's impossible to discern a coherent point of view.

David Cote, Time Out New York: I'm all for director's theater when it comes to classics; the only question is whether a new frame or filter works on its own terms. And with this thoughtful but often schematic and disjointed Cherry Orchard, the answer is: only in spurts.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: The bulk of the blame should be apportioned to Simon Godwin's production, which is clumsily directed and unattractively designed. Its cast of accomplished actors scurries on and off the stage in a continuous blur of dramatic inertia and purposelessness, with very little sense of who they are and even less cohesion. What's missing, primarily, is the fundamental element of pathos. When Chekhov cast his gaze over turn of the 20th century Russia and its chilly winds of socio-economic change, he spread his sympathies with admirable even-handedness between the doomed aristocracy, clinging with stubborn blindness to its obsolete status, and the former servant class, grappling with its newfound prospects for wealth and elevation.

Jeremy Gerard, Deadline: This production is staged by Simon Godwin, an associate director at London's National Theatre, and in keeping with current trends, it takes Chekhov at his word in classifying it as a comedy. Too much so, as it happens, in a mixed-bag of a production that despite some high points, struggles but fails to achieve a consistent tone. That leaves Lane somewhat in the lurch as Ranevskaya, who has returned from Paris after five years' absence to her once magnificent estate, now on the verge of being auctioned off.

Jesse Green, Vulture: No one, of course, sets out to under-serve Chekhov. The problem, even with serious interpretive artists at the helm, is that everyone must be seeking to serve in the same way. Here that does not appear to be the case. The adaptation, by Stephen Karam, is clean and mostly neutral, with an occasional bit of contemporary vernacular ("Get out!" where fustier translations offer something like "Think of that!") deliberately jarring the ear. I say deliberately because the staging by Simon Godwin, an associate director at London's National Theatre now making his New York debut, also underlines the modernity of Chekhov's themes, but does so rather more academically and urgently.

Melissa Rose Bernardo, Entertainment Weekly: Yet from the start, the Roundabout Theatre Company's loud, broad revival - working with a new adaptation by Stephen Karam, a Tony winner for the Chekhovian drama The Humans - makes no attempt to find a tragicomic balance. A worker blundering about in squeaky boots (Quinn Mattfeld) and a pratfall-prone maid (Susannah Flood) prove more memorable in the first scene than Lopakhin (Harold Perrineau of Lost and The Matrix fame), the peasant-turned-businessman with a vested interest in the cherry orchard.

Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News: Heading into "The Cherry Orchard" you already know that the glorious fruit trees are inevitably going down. But pretty much everything falls flat in the case of the vapid new Broadway revival of Anton Chekhov's classic tragicomedy about a family on the edge of collapse.

Linda Winer, Newsday: It hurts to have to say this. But the much-anticipated production, with Diane Lane at the top of a blazingly promising cast, is perplexing, stylistic gibberish. Worse, it is unmoving. With the conspicuous exception of Joel Grey in the small but crucial role of Firs, the old servant, and a few others, the production directed by Simon Godwin has only superficial historical moorings and lacks what Chekhov called "the subtle elusive beauty of human grief."

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: The theater's most famous cherry orchard makes a return appearance in the Roundabout's new revival, which opened Sunday at the American Airlines Theatre. Those soon-to-be-chopped-down fruit trees are represented by hanging mobile-like sculptures, designed by Scott Pask, and they kept reminding me of the Serban production. In the end, they're the least of what's wrong in Simon Godwin's staging of Stephen Karam's new adaptation.

Robert Kahn, NBC New York: Roundabout's "Cherry Orchard" is visually in the past, but aurally in the present. The result is a mixed bag lacking symbolic resonance: The audience gets neither the tragic grandeur nor the comedy of the aristocracy seeing its dominance end. Rather, this is a portrait of one clueless family losing their fortune because they don't know how to save a buck.

Matt Windman, amNY: "The Cherry Orchard," Chekhov's final play and a timeless tragicomedy about how people choose whether or not to respond to a changing world, proves to be less powerful than usual in the Roundabout Theatre Company's disjointed and flat revival, which stars Diane Lane alongside an accomplished ensemble.

Christopher Kelly, Karam's is not a completely invalid interpretation, even if it doesn't quite hang together (Chekhov, of course, was writing about the decline of the Russian aristocracy at the expense of the rising lower classes). Far more problematic is that Godwin doesn't seem to know if he wants this production to feel classical or modern, bleakly comic or just plain bleak, and so we get a jarring mishmash of styles and approaches.

Robert Feldberg, Bergen Record: The "new version" of "The Cherry Orchard" that opened Sunday at the American Airlines Theatre is a gray, dramatically underdeveloped affair that makes a poor argument for rethinking classic plays.

Alexis Soloski, The Guardian: There are ideological principles in play here and a couple of provocations, as when Lopakhin's triumphal jig takes on the rhythms of a tribal dance (the original music is by Nico Muhly). But the heart and that particular laughter-through-tears tone seem to have deserted the piece. You can't see the Chekhovian forest for all the miscellaneous trees.

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