Culture Theatre

REVIEW: The Cherry Orchard


by Molly Wyatt

“Perhaps man has a hundred senses, and when he dies only the five senses that we know perish with him, and the other ninety-five remain alive.”

It’s the early 80s, just before Thatcher’s upsurge in power and a family are confronted with the prospect of cutting down their cherished cherry orchard as a solution to financial uncertainty. Set in Pembrokeshire, the re-adaptation of Chekhov’s classic, Rainey returns to her confront not just the fate of the family estate, but also the fury of her own daughters.

Light and witty with splashes of compassion, the play reels out the suppressed conflictions amongst the family and their ties with their family home. Well directed and gratifyingly acted, the play undoubtedly showcased the talent of Gary Owen and Rachel O’Riordan’s collaborative efforts to capture this tender outlook of loss and anguish.

However, at times it felt that the play was not going anywhere; with the first act being an hour and forty-five minutes, the momentum began to dwindle. The juxtaposition of the overly RP spoken daughters and the authentic Welsh jovial others worked well to depict the issues and flaws within society, however, the undisguised ‘posh-totty’ characteristics of the daughters, unfortunately, came across falsely and somewhat unbelievable which made it somewhat difficult to engage. The comedic moments and 80’s music provided a sense of nostalgia but only subtly and it could be argued that this time period could have been addressed much more, particularly as much of the audience will have grown up during this period.

That is not to bypass the wonderful acting of Simon Armstrong who played Uncle Gabe; heartbreakingly endearing, he captured the hearts of the audience and stole the show with his quirks and harmless nature. What more, the perhaps underrated character of Dottie, the housemaid, played by emerging talent Alexandria Riley, brought a rawness to the show whilst embodying the wit and charm that this play promised. The moments between Dottie and wine-lover Riley, the mother played by the fabulous Denise Black were touching yet bitter. The brackishness of Riley was followed by the comic relief of Dottie, and it was in these rare, brief moments that truly infiltrated the history and long-held attachment between the family and their house.

While The Cherry Orchard seems far too long in duration for what it entails, there is no doubt that much of the acting is worthwhile the watch, showcasing the talent that Cardiff has to offer.

The Cherry Orchard will run from 13 Oct- 3 Nov at the Sherman Theatre.

Under 25’s get half price!