The Cherry Orchard

A play by Anton Chekhov
11-13 May 2006
at Faringdon Junior School
Directed by John Taylor

Chekhov (1860 – 1904) was not only a short-story writer and dramatist, but also a practising medical doctor and social reformer. This, his last play, was staged at the Moscow Arts Theatre in 1904. The action takes place between May and October. Madame Ranevskaya returns to her estate in the Russian countryside from Paris. She has been living there with her lover following the deaths of her husband and young son (drowned on the estate) some years previously. Her money has run out and her lover has deserted her. She is accompanied by her daughter Anya, Anya’s governess Charlotta, and a manservant Yasha. She is welcomed by other members of the family and household, and by Lopakhin, a wealthy merchant descended from serfs who urges her to sell her cherry orchard to wipe out the family’s debts and to lease out the land and buildings so as to retain the family home. She refuses,  Lopakhin purchases the orchard at auction, and gives orders for it to be cut down as Madame R departs, virtually penniless, for Paris once again. A bald and simple enough tale, but it is the playing out of the characters’ lives, loves, hopes, fears and disappointments that is so enthralling.

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The Cherry Orchard

Photographs by Joan Lee

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