July 29, 2014
Chekhov’s Orchard gets loyal reboot in BA
For the Herald
Cristina Banegas breathes life into lead character, delivers fresh approach
Under Helena Tritek’s direction, The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov returns to the stage in a classic and loyal mise-en-scene, more than a hundred years after its premiere, though with a contemporary adaptation on the libretto. Chekhov’s play reflects the bourgeois lifestyle and transformation of Russian society at the end of the nineteenth century. With a stunning set design and a prevailing black-and-white colour palette, the luxury and refinement of a bygone age is brought back to life with great performances framed by an impressive production.
Every theatre element is employed at its highest potential. Since private balls were the main social event in the nineteenth century, live music and dance are some of the most important parts of this play. That is why a large cast is brought on stage to represent the ballroom dances — as well as having musicians playing on stage, adding to Tritek’s faithful and realistic portrayal.
Moreover, the visually balanced and repetitive set design reflects the immutability of that particular social group, which was constantly wary of change, since maintaining status was fundamental. The nineteenth century costumes, the wigs and the props not only support the necessary accuracy but also help delineate the different social classes. Although most of the action takes place at the family estate — where the cherry orchard is — the set design changes into multiple other performance spaces — as needed by the story — through use of lights and projections swaps. Credit is due to Eli Sirlin, Sebastián Sabas and Eugenio Zanetti, who are in charge of combining every element into a unanimous message.
This simple and class-illustrative comedy presents an extravagant woman who is about to lose her property because of a huge debt. In an epoch where most of the landowners rented their plots to gain much-needed profit, Madam Lyubov stands up to the tide of time and distracts herself while the situation takes a turn for the worse. Cristina Banegas breathes life into this character, adding freshness and authenticity to the Russian play and proving, once more, her enormous performing talent. Mario Alarcón — as her brother — does not lag behind, playing a more rational character and partnering Banegas with his great acting skills.
Lucía Alfonsín and Dolores Ocampo incarnate Madame Lyubov’s daughters. The bond between the two women is one of the most attractive features of the play’s psychological layout. Alejandro Viola as the businessman, Gustavo Rey as the landowner, Fabián Bril as the housemaid and Maruja Bustamante as the servant reinforce the director’s take on the play and, at the same time, provide new and different personal tales. Once more, Esteban Meloni — playing the perpetual student — mesmerizes with his capacity to perform classic theatre pieces. The cast is completed by David Masajnik, Nelly Prince and Gipsy Bonafina.
The large cast onstage and the faithful mise-en-scene of such a famous classical play produce a highly commendable work which showcases the excellent management of theatrical resources by Helena Tritek.
Where and when
Teatro San Martín, Corrientes 1530. On Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 19pm. Tickets from 45 pesos.