‘The Cherry Orchard’ blossoms today

Alex Ripepi

Staff Writer

The Doré Theater will be opening a production that is bound to tug at the heartstrings of any viewer who has experienced loss. Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” is a play that focuses on the financial troubles of an aristocratic Russian woman named Lyubov Andreievna Ranevskaya. The family’s estate, which houses a well-known cherry orchard, is about to be auctioned to pay for the mortgage, and the play centers around the potential loss of this monumentally sentimental property. Strangely though, Chekhov intended the play to be a comedy.

I was lucky enough to be present for a few of what the play’s director, Dr. Maria-Tania Becerra, called “problem scenes.” And although to the trained eye, there might have been discrepancies, I found them to be quite enjoyable, and it was rather easy to lose myself in the production even though it wasn’t a production night.

Emily Candia, the actress playing Ranevskaya in the CSUB production, does not agree with that assessment, however. “Through the perspective of my character, no (the play is not a comedy). She has a really hard past.” Said Candia, detailing the pre-play circumstances her character experienced. Before the curtain has even lifted, Ranevskaya has experienced the deaths of both her husband and their son. As a character, Ranevskaya’s main issue is her vice grip on the family’s old ways, and she serves to illustrate a Russian aristocracy that can’t let go of the past.

Another character, former serf Yermolai Lopakhin, is almost the opposite of Ranevskaya. Having become the wealthiest character in the play from such low beginnings, Lopakhin represents a grave threat to the outdated aristocracy in Russia. Miguel Torres, the actor behind Lopakhin, had other thoughts on the intentions of the play: “My perspective on Chekhov is like life. Your life is a comedy and a tragedy. You just have to choose.”

The suggestion for the play came from another actor in the play, Kevin Lohmann. Lohmann said, “I love this play. For those of us in the theater, Chekhov is equivalent in difficulty to Shakespeare. It’s a big challenge.” He was cast as Firs, a servant of the main family. “He sort of represents that dying ideal (of the old aristocracy),” said Lohmann in regards to Firs’s significance in the play.

As far as the comedic or tragic value of the play, he said, “Yes from my character’s perspective. A lot of the characters end up in better circumstances.”

From what I saw during the rehearsal, the actors were able to capture not only the general feeling of entitlement that Chekhov wanted to convey as such a large part of the aristocracy, but also the intense feeling of loss that not only Ranevskaya felt, but the entire family goes through. Whether the play is one of joy or one of sadness is still up for debate, but I can say that it is indeed a must see for anyone interested in the performing arts.

The play opens this week on Thursday May 23rd at 8 P.M. continuing through the 25th. The play opens at the same time on May 30th-June 1st and at 2 P.M. on June 2nd.