It is fitting that “The Cherry Orchard” was Anton Chekhov’s last play before his death. The play leaves you feeling as though nothing is permanent; it goes deeper than the permanence of material things. It talks about life and class in Russia, all without directly saying a word about it. That is the beauty and the annoyance of Chekhov.
The play, which opened Friday night at the Joan and Donald Schaeffer Black Box Theater, is centered on Ranevskaya, a woman from a well-to-do Russian family. She is coming home to her beautiful estate with the rest of her family, just to leave it forever in a few months. Ranevskaya and her brother Gaev try everything they can to save their beloved home, but to no avail.
The show isn’t the tragedy that most make it out to be. In fact, there are many comedic moments. For example Gaev – portrayed by senior Michael Caizzi – is a humorous character that loves talking. Caizzi plays the part with ease and makes the character witty rather than an idiot. Another comedic character is Firs, an old man who has worked for the family for generations. Senior Michael Mahoski plays the mumbling man so well – I dare you to not be rolling in your seat.
For the most part, the tragedy is in Ranevskaya – played by senior Claire Romansky; the audience feels for her character. Romansky plays up her character’s longing for her Paris lover and her longing to keep the only place she felt at home. The character is played to appear so sad that you forget that underneath there is a woman who has seen happier times and has some witty lines herself. This small bit of happiness is seen when she is walking around her estate with her youngest daughter Anya, played by sophomore Lauren Dietzel, who is a breath of fresh air. She and Laura Erle, who plays Varya, are the two constant characters – one always happy and uplifting and the other a little bitter.
One of the shining moments of the show is Trofimov – portrayed by Ethan Marble. Trofimov is a student hopelessly in love with Anya. Marble’s character is thought out and great to watch. He understands his character inside and out, seemingly becoming Trofimov when he enters the dazzling stage designed by senior Heather Levinsky.
“The Cherry Orchard” is for the theater-goer. It doesn’t have stage fights and musical numbers that make you want to dance in your seat, but it does have a message that is conveyed in an entertaining way. Chekhov isn’t for everyone, but for those who understand him, it can be mind opening.
“The Cherry Orchard” is playing at The Schaeffer Black Box Theater located at the New Academic Building on Hofstra’s South Campus. Showtimes are Thursday, Nov. 10, at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 12, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m.