I have seen three theatre productions in the last 6 weeks. The third of these, Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, was at the Young Vic. It is the latest production by the highly inventive and talented director Katie Mitchell.
I have seen three versions of the play previously, but in Mitchell’s hands it was transformed into a beautiful, exhilarating ensemble piece with not one actor in the large cast upstaging anyone: everyone was allowed to shine. It was a truly democratic production.
The stage set consisted of a large, shabby interior room of the Ranevskaya House, reminiscent of a Tarkovsky vision of peeling decay and melancholy. Added to this was some very atmospheric lighting, enhancing the desolate mood. And there were ominous and distorted ambient sounds running through the production to emphasise the feeling of doom.
Katie Mitchell is known for her highly complex multimedia productions, which often combine film, live action, sound design and foley work in equal measures. They make the theatrical experience far more immersive. But this production was very stripped back, concentrating on the choreography and performance of the actors, which were, at times, breath-taking. There were some wonderful painterly groupings of the cast, giving moments of great beauty.
The script by Simon Stephens in this adaptation was fast, sharp, often very touching and extremely funny throughout. As a devotee of cinema, I love the contrast of live theatre performance – it is a completely different experience. So, if you have never visited the theatre but have an itch to go, then this is the one to cut your teeth on. The run ends on 29 November.