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in Northampton since 1932

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The Cherry Orchard
by Anton Chekhov, adapted by David Mamet

Cast & Crew

Raneveskaya Jan Stoppani
Anya Lynette Ashton
Rebecca Allan
Owen Warr
Martin Williams
Sam Parish
Kevin Pinks
Bernadette Wood
Peter Roberts
Susanna Amato
Tony Janney
Yasha Loyd Mtchell
Stranger Duncan Morrison
Station Master
Duncan Morrison
Ingrid Heymann

Director Rob Kendall
Stage Manager
Clare Brittain
Rob Kendall
Lighting Design Robert Vaughan
Sound Effects
Ian Clarke
Individual Costumes
Joy Saville
Masque Costumes & The Works
Set Design
Mark Van der Berg
Poster Design
Rob Kendall
Programme Design Martin Borley-Cox
Front of House Masque Theatre members

Kevin Pinks as Pishchik, Owen Warr as Gaev and Tony Janney as Firs Photo by Denise Jordan

Production No. 370

More images from The Cherry Orchard


Rob Kendall, director

Chekhov wrote The Cherry Orchard for the Moscow Arts Theatre in 1904 and described it as a ‘light comedy’, though Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko as producers called it a ‘serious drama of Russia life’. The truth to modern audiences is somewhere between the two but the modern translation we’re using gives the characters a lightness of touch I think Chekhov would have enjoyed.

To some extent the plot is loosely drawn, rather like a charcoal sketch, where the events of their lives emerge. Lyubov Ranevskaya and her daughter return to their heavily mortgaged estate after five years abroad. It is May and the cherry trees are in bloom but Loparkin, a self made local man, suggests they cut down the trees and rent out the land to solve their problems. However, nothing is done and the estate is eventually sold at auction.

From this unlikely scenario there is a breath of life and subdued passions that inhabit the characters as they move inexorably towards their respective fate. As an audience sometimes you want to give the characters a good shake out of their sentimentality, that is part, of course, of the comedy.

There is a 15 strong cast for the play that has Jan Stoppani as Lyubov Ranevskya, the owner of the orchard and Owen Warr as her brother constantly worried about his 'billiard' skills. Lopakhin, the landowner with a plan for the orchard, is played by Martin Williams.

The supporting vast are made up by Masque members Rebecca Allan, Ingrid Heymann, Tony Janney, Susanna Amato, Duncan Morrison, Kevin Pinks and Bernadette Wood plus new members Loyd Mitchell and Sam Parish, and returnees from the MYT Lynette Ashton and Peter Roberts.

Mark Van Der Bergh is helping with the set and Clare Brittain is stage managing.

Masque last performed The Cherry Orchard in 1979 with Alison Dunmore directing and our last Chekhov was Bob Godfrey’s The Three Sisters in 2003. Masque has, of course, produced other plays of his but whether you’re a devotee of Chekhov or new to him come to the play and see if we have, in Chekhov’s words, ‘put on stage life as it really is’.

Tue 16 - Sat 20 February 2010 at 7.45pm
Northampton College Studio Theatre, Booth Lane, Northampton

Page last updated: 17/04/2012 Masque Theatre © 2012

by Ian Spiby

Rob Kendall likes climbing mountains.  Having assailed a major one with Mother Courage two years ago, he has taken on the challenge of the most difficult peak of all, The Cherry Orchard.

Many people say (and I am among them) that it is not only the greatest play of the 20th Century, but one of the greatest of all time.  It is notoriously difficult to bring off - like trying to put mist on stage - every time you think you’ve got it within your grasp it slips away from you and reforms.  But one of the most fascinating things about it is that each viewing gives you different insights into humanity.  I have seen and read it many times and when I saw Rob’s production, sure enough, there were a whole set of aspects I’d never quite seen before.

Playing quite legitimately, all the characters were either eccentric, stupid or deluded.  At the centre is Ranevskaya (Jan Stoppani) completely at the mercy of her emotions, and not one of them genuine or worthy.  Swayed by sentimentality, nostalgia and self indulgence, she seems totally out of touch with reality.

Worse is her brother Gaev (Owen Warr), playing endless games of imaginary billiards and reciting speeches in praise of the bookcase.

Even the man whose feet appear to be firmly on the ground, Lopakhin (played well as always by Martin Williams) is a lonely misfit, obsessed with money and his past, unable to form a decent emotional relationship.

Varya (Becky Allen) his would-be fiancée, had a poise and dignity which covers her essential hollowness and despair.

Anya the younger daughter (Lynette Ashton) is callow and facile and her boyfriend, Trofimov (Sam Parish), a buttoned-up eternal student; together they go off to the future with empty-headed optimism. 

Semyonov Pishchik, the neighbour (Kevin Pinks) is a bumbling eccentric while the governess Charlotta (Bernie Wood) is a social misfit by her own admission, addicted to conjuring tricks and impersonations.

The cast is completed by the maid Dunyasha (Susanna Amato) with her pretensions to gentility, by Yasha (Loyd Mitchell) with his aggressive self-seeking and upward mobility, by Firs the butler (Tony Janney) harking back to the good old days of slavery and by Yepikhodov (Peter Roberts) whose life is a series of misfortunes.

Yet out of this dysfunctional group, set in a particular place at a particular time in 19th Century Russia, Chekhov manages to convey the very essence of human existence, to capture the despair and existential angst that characterised much of the 20th Century.

Thank you Rob for once again bringing this wonderful play to life.

A scene from The Cherry Orchard