My husband’s translation of ‘Cherry Orchard’ was so naturalistic. A few minutes into John Turturro’s opening scene, I squeezed Chris’s arm and whispered, “So good. Genius.”
Chris (John Christopher Jones) did a brilliant job of situating the audience right there with the family at the grand Russian estate as it falls into disrepair and bankruptcy, sold to the local boor — or is he a self-made man? — played by Turturro.
An actor at the cast party told me it was the only of Chekhov’s place that the author considered a comedy. (Actors can be so smart — like real artists, not just empty-headed celebs!)
Chris worked hard of this translation, obsessed by it for months. He spent a lot time sitting in front of the computer. I know how hard it is to write. It is mostly about keeping your seat in the chair.
I have seen Chris in a number of Chekhov plays. From those plays, I can see what life was like back in the day before people realized you should work out to lift your spirits. Or perhaps, people, try some anti-depressants?
In Chekhov’s plays my heart always breaks for the way the characters ridicule the intellectual, the perpetual student. Ugh.
This production is not depressing. I loved the party scene where the family, led by Dianne Wiest, and the guests wait to hear about the fate of the estate. The party goers’ spirits were as light as the stuffing from the chair that flew around the stage when Turturro ripped open the furniture.
For some reason, I always imagine the cherry orchard bathed in late afternoon light, like in the Van Gogh painting of the olive orchard. The cherry orchard never appears on stage yet it is a character in the play, once great and now parceled away — like so many nations, families and nature itself.
On the cab ride home from the opening night party, I read Chris the The New York Times Review of ‘Cherry Orchard’ off of my smart phone, hitting bumps and speeding up Third Avenue. It was a triumph for Chris.