The late, lamented teach flipboard at Amtrak’s 30th Street Station was at ideal a pallid cousin to the just one serving as the centerpiece of the Wilma Theater’s reimagined version of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.
The nearly two-hour, intermission-a lot less demonstrate, a environment-premiere adaptation by Russian director Dmitry Krymov in collaboration with the Wilma HotHouse Performing Corporation, leans seriously on that enormous flipboard. It features alternately as an all-knowing seer, a sensible-cracking comedian, and a stand-in for Chekhov himself, spewing the authentic text far too promptly for us to absorb.
It is an creative theatrical device, and the mechanics are outstanding. But the joke palls immediately after a though. So, far too, do the repeated shout-outs to modern know-how, from bitcoin to smartphones, interpolated into the show’s belabored potpourri of slapstick, screaming, profanity, dancing, singing, viewers participation, theater jokes, improv, and direct references to the current disaster in Ukraine. Sound exhausting? It is. This is Chekhov run by way of a blender of 20th-century experimental theater tropes.
There is a reason that playwrights — not directors and theatrical troupes — frequently produce performs. They’re far better at it.
Chekhov known as The Cherry Orchard, the past enjoy he concluded prior to his loss of life in 1904, a comedy. But its emotional tone hovers nearer to tragedy. Established on an early-20th-century Russian estate, it depicts the crumbling of the aged aristocratic order, symbolized by the cherry orchard, and its substitute by an significantly impressive merchant course. Displacement, social transformation, and the pressure in between truth and illusion are amid its themes. But the play’s deficiency of action and profusion of characters, with their complex names and interactions, may perhaps make it a slog for American audiences.
So, even prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine produced displacement recently relevant, it might have appeared an motivated concept to update The Cherry Orchard. Chekhov deconstructions and spoofs have turn into a style in them selves. In October, the Wilma offered Minor Character, that includes various concurrent translations of Uncle Vanya. Christopher Durang’s comedic Chekhov mash-up, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, received a 2013 Tony Award and was developed by the Philadelphia Theatre Business in 2014. Two yrs later on, the Arden Theatre Corporation staged Silly F#*@cking Fowl, Aaron Posner’s wacky adaptation of The Seagull.
The Wilma’s Cherry Orchard, as directed by Krymov, is infuriatingly self-indulgent, despite the initiatives of its talented solid. Matteo Scammell, as the servant Yasha, presents an entertainingly foul-mouthed twist to the music “New York, New York,” and Suli Holum spews venom and sunflower seeds as the governess Carlotta. Justin Jain is an energetic and unsubtle Lopakhin, the loaded merchant able of each generosity and predation. Krista Apple performs an anemic Ranyevska, the estate operator who’s a fool for like.
This production’s strengths are mostly visual. Krymov shares set design credit history with Irina Kruzhilina, who also designed the vaguely time period costumes. Jointly, they have provided us arresting illustrations or photos: that flipboard, topped with angelic statuettes a stopped clock at its base a photographic portrait of a lady covering the phase floor a slick mess of squashed sour cherries periodic plumes of smoke a deracinated cherry tree, and a volleyball sport concerning workers and landowners that compels Lopakhin to come to a decision which side he favors.
“The Cherry Orchard” is offered by the Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St., by means of May possibly 1. Vaccination evidence and masks needed. Tickets: $25-$59. Data: 215-546-7824 or wilmatheater.org.