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A CurtainUp Review
We should try to be different. We really should! We're the children of cooks and laundry-women and decent working people. We have a duty to be different! Never before has our great country had an educated bourgeoisie with direct blood ties to the working class. Those ties should feed us, should plant in us a burning desire to improve and regenerate and illuminate the lives of our own people - people who toil and toil, till the day they die trapped in dirt and darkness. --Maria LvovnaGorky's play, in a new version by Nick Dear, returns to the ensemble repertory at the Olivier with some cast changes from the one which won almost universal praise last September. This tale of Russia just prior to the upheaval of the revolution, features several families summering at their dachas. It has been seen as the inheritor of The Cherry Orchard because these are the very summer homes that are envisaged being built when the orchard is cut down. However the inhabitants are not the cheerful happy ones on holiday that are expected at the end of Chekhov's play. They are the children of peasants, the new bourgeoisie, educated and now with the luxury of being able to philosophise at their unhappiness, to indulge in the stifling ennui as oppressive as the heat, rather than wondering where the next crust was coming from.
There are some outstanding performances from the twenty six strong cast:
Trevor Nunn, joint director with Fiona Buffin, won commendation for resurrecting this play and several of the original performances have been nominated for Olivier awards. Lovely to look at and well acted as their production is, it seemed to me that it would benefit immensely from some tightening to keep the pace from slowing to an occasional yawn-inducing crawl.
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