The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov - Theatre By The River & Little Echo Theatre

The Cherry Orchard is an ambitious play for any company, with its enormous cast, 4 acts, and famous Chekhovian brooding. Local indie companies Theatre By The River and Little Echo team up for the festival to bring us this promenade piece, directed by Suzie Martin. Situated in a beautifully dingy arts warehouse, each space is artfully designed by Daina Leitold, who also plays Charlotta in the production. The feeling of space being lived in, constantly changing and yet staying the same was a unique feature of the production. And the lengthy play certainly benefits from the promenade nature of the production; where some stagings of Chekhov's full length plays can see audience members flagging, forcing us to get up and move provided a nice sorbet of sorts. 

The performances from the large cast were uneven, and at times felt un-matched in terms of style. That said, some did shine; Tobias Hughes as Petya was every bit the strong-willed and shining idealist, and Kevin Klassen as Lopahkin was a seedy wheeler dealer, almost like a travelling salesman. Melanie White was flippant and scatterbrained as a fabulous Ranyevskaya, whom we see each misfortune coming to, and yet share in her pain at a world changing too quickly around her. Finally, Justin Otto deserves mention for his hilariously snarky and scheming Yasha and Kevin Andersen's Firs was heartbreaking and lovely.  

Although the promenade was beneficial in keeping audience members engaged intellectutally, it did take us out of the world of the play each time once the stage manager began to usher us to the next space. In a play so heavily populated with servants, I would have loved to see this become a moment of audience participation each time, allowing Yasha or Firs (for example) to have the enjoyment of moving the audience along.