Saturday, October 29, 2016
Chop! Chop! Goes This "Cherry Orchard!" Thank God Celia Is On Hand To Save The Show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I cannot, in all good conscience, recommend this production of Chekhov's immortal work. Its poetic and lyrical language have been ruined by Stephen Karam's lugubrious and ethnocentricized translation. Then there is Simon Godwin's godforsaken lack of direction, with everyone flailing about, as if on speed, unsure of what play they are supposed to be in, or what we, the audience are supposed to be watching. Forget the minimalist settings, and the period disparities within the costumes, did anyone think of challenging Godwin, saying, "Just what are we supposed to be doing, sir?"
They all should have, but for the exception of the divine Celia Keenan-_Bolger, the only one who keeps one glued to their seat. As Varya, Miss Keenan-Bolger breathes new life into that tried but true adage about there not being small parts, only small actors. After seeing what Celia does with the role of Varya, I shall never complain about the size of any part I may taken on hereafter.
What Celia does is nothing short of extraordinary. When Varya first appears on stage, in the beaming light, cross around her neck, it as though Jennifer Jones was onstage in "The Song Of Bernadette." Celia's beauty and luminosity are comparable, and so is her beautifully internalized work here. Her Varya says even more with gestures than with lines, and when Celia communicates with a head turn, or a hand gesture, one feels in the presence of true acting greatness, recalling the days of Modjeska, Nazimova, and Blanche Yurka. This is one "Cherry Orchard" that could do with a whole lot more of Celia, and, as I watched, I was counting ways I could have added her in to the staging. Too bad Mr. Godwin and I don't think alike.
As for the other actors, they are trapped! Diane Lane is so actressy, which makes sense, as her character had been an actress--think Desiree Armfeldt--only Kamal's text fails to mention this very important distinction. John Glover plays his role like some queen out of a John Waters film, and Joel Grey is doing vaudeville. Close behind Celia is Tavi Gevenson, in the role of Anya; no surprise there, since she did Celia's job, when playing Mary Warren in the recent "Crucible,"saving that theatrical mess.
Really, if you want to learn about and witness genuinely great stage acting, the kind audiences don't get to see much anymore, than go see this production, keep your eye exclusively on Celia, and let her work her magic.
For the less devoted, I would recommend "Matilda," while it still runs! Really!
Love you, Celia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!