City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Cherry Orchard: Beyond the Truth, C Nova, Review

By Vivien Devlin - Posted on 08 August 2015

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Show details
C nova
Theatre Margot (Korea)
Running time: 
Park Yeon Joo (director), Jang Young Hwi (Art director), Lee Seong Shin (composer), Lee Hoo Rim (lighting), Kim Sung Yeon (movement)
Lim Yun Jin (Raneveskaya), You Hyo Jin (Anya), Jeong Hin Suk (Varya)

Korean Cultural Centre UK presents ‘Korean Stage’ at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, a colourfully creative showcase of drama, dance, music, comedy and a children’s show.

The Margot Theatre is a women’s group, named after Margot, a Korean Goddess of myths, specializing in experimental physical drama. Their re-imagined, improvised version of “The Cherry Orchard – Beyond the Truth” has been a critical success, winning two major awards for best new play.

It’s interesting that at the National Theatre and Seoul Performing Arts Center, the repertory consists of traditional Korean works as well as many Shakespeare and Chekhov productions. A recurrent theme of Chekhov’s family sagas is the clash between the values of old Russia and Western modernity - social issues as valid today in a fast-developing Asia.

Director Yeon Joo Park presents a raw, radical, feminist reading of The Cherry Orchard, discarding fourteen characters and much of the dialogue, paring the narrative down to the bone. Here we have the three central women, Madame Ranevskaya and her two daughters, Anya and Varya. The plot in a nutshell - Ranevksyaya is a middle-aged woman, the owner of a a grand family Estate. Her first name, Lyuba, means "love" in Russian, and her generous, kind-hearted nature has led to an extravagant, carefree lifestyle.

Returning home from Paris, she is in denial to accept the hard truth that her beloved cherry orchard will have to be auctioned to pay debts. Varya is twenty four and works as the estate manager, lacking both money and a husband, She likes being in control but the responsibility amidst financial problems causes her nothing but stress. At just seventeen, Anya behaves like an innocent child, the complete opposite in personality of her older sister.

Studio 3 at C Nova is a black box stage with a dark brown, pink framed screen at the back, which symbolises the orchard. The theatrical style of the performance is expressionist, dramatised through facial gesture, energetic, exaggerated movement, mime and mannerisms. There are snippets of text in English spoken with a high pitched voice; although understandably difficult to grasp at first ( “Terry Ortad”?), just tune in to the lyrical rhythm and repetition of words.

Raneveskaya is a slender lady in yellow trousers and matching jacket, Varya wears a blue jumpsuit, like worker’s overalls, while Anya is pretty and girlish in green T shirt and shorts. They all have punkish, pink-tinted hair.

The action is all very playful. As if reminiscing happy childhood days, the girls have a tea party – all very Alice in Wonderland - setting out dolls’ house cups and plates, sitting on tiny stools, pretending to sip tea and eat cakes. Raneveskaya and her daughters seek refuge in the past to mask the truth that their traditional, aristocratic lives will soon change for ever.

This is definitely not Chekhov as you know it. This is a fast and furiously paced performance, expressing anger and frustration, yet there are moments of zany humour and gentle wit.

In stripping back the play and characters to its emotional heart, we observe the heartfelt, loving relationship between the eccentric, diva of a lady, Lyuba and her disillusioned daughters - “my babies”.

They are not waving but drowning: “I’m going crazy” screams Mama, as she realises too late that the dream of her precious old life - like the proverbial bowl of cherries – has been shattered like a pane of glass.

Show times: 5 - 31 August, 2.40pm.
Ticket prices: £9.50-11.50 (£7.50-9.50