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The Bridge Project: THE CHERRY ORCHARD Reviews

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BustopherPhantom
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Variety is Mixed-to-Positive:

'Two seasons ago, Lincoln Center Theater's knockout three-part production of "The Coast of Utopia" underscored just how much New York theater could benefit from a British-style repertory acting company. That call has been answered by the Bridge Project, a trans-Atlantic venture that regroups a number of collaborators from the Tom Stoppard trilogy in its inaugural production of "The Cherry Orchard." It's no match for this season's haunting reinvestigation of another Chekhov play, "The Seagull," but Sam Mendes' robust staging of Stoppard's witty new adaptation boasts strong ensemble work, centered by the gravitas and emotional nuance of Simon Russell Beale's riveting Lopakhin.'

http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117939344.html?categoryid=33&cs=1
"Y'know, I think Bertolt Brecht was rolling in his grave."
-Nellie McKay on the 2006 Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, in which she played Polly Peachum
Updated On: 1/15/09 at 09:00 PM
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BustopherPhantom
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joined:8/31/06
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The Associated Press is a Rave:

'...[Simon Russell Beale] brings an expansive complexity to the role [of Lopakhin], carefully showing both sides of the man's love-hate relationship with these exasperating people. That anger erupts most dramatically after his economic triumph is complete, as Lopakhin knocks over a row of chairs, one by one, in the doomed country manor.

That's only one of the striking visual conceits that Mendes puts on display at the Harvey, a wide stage that would seem to be an uncomfortable fit for Chekhov's tale of often intimate emotions. But he's gotten yeoman support from his production team, particularly lighting designer Paul Pyant, who, at one point, throws gigantic shadows of the principals across the back of the set. All of a sudden, the talk seems even more conversational.'

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090115/ap_en_re/theater_review_the_cherry_orchard
"Y'know, I think Bertolt Brecht was rolling in his grave."
-Nellie McKay on the 2006 Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, in which she played Polly Peachum
Updated On: 1/15/09 at 09:09 PM
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BustopherPhantom
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joined:8/31/06
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8/31/06
Backstage is a Rave:

'...The rest of the company infuses their roles with the same combination of mocking derision and tearful self-awareness. They are like Emmett Kelly clowns careening in a circus tent about to fold up for the last time. Sinead Cusack's Ranevskaya is a beautiful diva but also a lost child, not comprehending the changing world around her. Simon Russell Beale gracefully captures the graceless Lopakhin's conflicts between his serf upbringing and his upper-class ambitions. His final scene with Varya (the equally skilled Rebecca Hall) is a heartbreaking vignette in which the two are unable to speak their true feelings as they chatter about the weather. Dakin Matthews has a stunning moment in the last act when his always-in-debt neighbor realizes his friends are really all leaving. There are complex shadings in Ethan Hawke's earnest Trofimov, Paul Jesson's talkative Gaev, Selina Cadell's mischievous Charlotta, and Josh Hamilton's haughty Yasha.'

http://www.backstage.com/bso/news_reviews/nyc/review_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003931230
"Y'know, I think Bertolt Brecht was rolling in his grave."
-Nellie McKay on the 2006 Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, in which she played Polly Peachum
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BustopherPhantom
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joined:8/31/06
Broadway Legend
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The New York Times - with Ben Brantley reviewing - is Mixed-to-Positive:

'At least four of the central performances are everything one could wish. Ms. Cusack, seen on Broadway in Mr. Stoppard’s “Rock ’n’ Roll,” is a gorgeously fluid mass of contradictions here, an impulsively generous snob who is both the infantile coquette she once was and the rueful casualty of passion she has become. (She also gorgeously fills Catherine Zuber’s deluxe period costumes.) Mr. Jesson’s effete Gaev seems glazed in protective frivolous reverie, a shield pierced only occasionally by the unpleasantness of changing times.

The quietly combustible Ms. Hall (recently of the film “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) conveys the frustration of ultimately being neither family nor employee, a predicament that finally consumes the seemingly placid Varya, Ranevskaya’s adopted daughter. And Mr. Russell Beale, one of the greatest British stage actors, doesn’t disappoint, registering every ounce of guilt, joy, fear and wonder that comes from Lopakhin’s realization that it is he, the parvenu, who will inherit the earth. (A similar though more complacent awareness is entertainingly embodied by Josh Hamilton as an insolent valet.)

If only Mr. Mendes could trust in Chekhov and his leading actors to state their case without unwelcome directorial italics. An artist of maddeningly mixed subtlety and overstatement, Mr. Mendes (whose film work includes the Oscar-winning “American Beauty” and the current “Revolutionary Road”) has included a couple of flashy set pieces — including a tableau that suggests the masses on the verge of revolution — that spell out and diminish implicit themes. Mark Bennett’s mood-cuing music can feel similarly intrusive.'

http://theater2.nytimes.com/2009/01/16/theater/reviews/16orch.html?pagewanted=2
"Y'know, I think Bertolt Brecht was rolling in his grave."
-Nellie McKay on the 2006 Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, in which she played Polly Peachum
RentBoy86
Broadway Legend
joined:2/15/05
Broadway Legend
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I saw this on Tuesday, and I loved it. There were some directorial decisions I was confused by (the tableau of the peasants that Brantley discusses), but for the most part I found it highly enjoyable. Act III (Or the first scene in Act II) was the best part. The direction and acting work in that scene are outstanding. When Beale goes around the circle and throws the chairs, I was in awe. Also, that was one of the most beautiful theaters I've ever been in. I loved the torn down aspect and the way the stage was on the same level as the actors, and how they used the boxes in the house as entrances and whatnot. (It doesn't beat the Lyceum however. that theater, with its exterior, is gorgeous).
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BustopherPhantom
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The Wall Street Journal is Mixed-to-Positive:

'It is, I suppose, inevitable that Mr. Mendes's starry cast should feel less like an ensemble than an assemblage, a stageful of brilliantly gifted players who are all headed in the same general direction but at somewhat different speeds. No matter: Mr. Beale, Ms. Cusack and Rebecca Hall all give great performances, while everyone else is outstanding in his or her own way. Anthony Ward's traveling set is simple but evocative and Mark Bennett's incidental music, part minimalist and part mock-Russian, scents the air with mystery.'

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123206139563987695.html
"Y'know, I think Bertolt Brecht was rolling in his grave."
-Nellie McKay on the 2006 Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, in which she played Polly Peachum
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BustopherPhantom
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joined:8/31/06
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joined:
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John Simon is Mixed-to-Positive:

'The American Catherine Zuber’s reliable costumes and Britisher Paul Pyant’s tricky lighting match up nicely with American Mark Bennett’s restrained music. Even Firs’s moving final death scene, though, is overdone by Mendes; instead of Chekhov’s apposite divan, a child’s chair and the hard floor is all the moribund gets.

But let me not prevent anyone from enjoying the production’s solid aspects, which happily do preponderate. The rather too Russian weeping is judiciously controlled, and Chekhov’s intended laughs are duly retained.

Bridge plans to unite British and American actors in two annual revivals of classics for three years, all directed by Mendes and traveling worldwide. The project, presumptively bridging a histrionic gap between transatlantic theaters, starts off with this “Orchard,” to be followed next month by “The Winter’s Tale,” excellent choices both.'

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601098&sid=aqd2Yiijp_HQ&refer=movie
"Y'know, I think Bertolt Brecht was rolling in his grave."
-Nellie McKay on the 2006 Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, in which she played Polly Peachum
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BustopherPhantom
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The New York Daily News gives the show 4 Stars out of 5:

'The cast is a 50-50 mix of actors from the U.S. and across the pond. The evening belongs to Simon Russell Beale, who is magnetic as Lopakhin, a serf-turned-merchant with money and a plan to save the estate. This British star's inherent comic quality and expressive, plummy voice rightly push the play toward comedy. As Ranevskaya, the landowner stuck in the past, Sinead Cusack creates a rich portrait of a woman who is by turns likable, bullheaded, foolish and fetching.

Ethan Hawke, in bedhead hair and rumpled clothes, fits the image of the "mangy" student Trofimov, but one wishes he didn't speak with a perennial frog in his throat. While on the subject of speech, no effort is made to homogenize English and American accents. That jars at first, then fades.'

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/arts/2009/01/16/2009-01-16_cherry_orchard_blossoms_at_bam.html


The New York Post gives the show 3 1/2 Stars out of 4:

'The venture gets off to a roaring start with this superbly staged and acted revival of Chekhov's classic, already one of the season's hottest tickets.

At least in this inaugural production, the British performers tend to dominate. Sinéad Cusack delivers a wonderfully subtle turn as Ranevskaya, whose indifference to her business affairs has resulted in the impending loss of her beloved cherry orchard; Simon Russell Beale expertly balances pathos and anger in his portrayal of the former serf Lopakhin, whose efforts to save his friends' estate are endlessly frustrated; and Rebecca Hall is deeply moving as Varya, the adopted daughter who is unlucky in love. (This gorgeous actress' transformation into frumpiness is perhaps the production's most startling effect.)'

http://www.nypost.com/seven/01162009/entertainment/theater/plays_ripe_for_the_picking_150336.htm
"Y'know, I think Bertolt Brecht was rolling in his grave."
-Nellie McKay on the 2006 Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, in which she played Polly Peachum
Updated On: 1/16/09 at 11:46 AM