STAN’s Cherry Orchard is often both incredibly witty and sad. The group knows its Russians.

Creating the play and the production together is the secret behind the company’s success.
An enigma, that’s what Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard is, as the STAN theatre- makers emphasize once again in their programme book. The writer himself described his last play as a comedy, but since the première in 1904 it has been subjected to any number of interpretations. The Flemish group thinks that the great master would say in a warm tone: figure it out for yourself! That’s what they did, and the result is beautifully balanced. Their Cherry Orchard, which was premièred at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels at Ascension, is incredibly witty - not side-splitting but gentle chuckles at regular intervals. At the same time it is sad – not tear-jerking, but heartache.
STAN knows its Russians and makes this play with a relatively large cast in the tradition of Zomergasten (Summerfolk, 2010). Jolente De Keersmaeker is Lyubov Ranevskaya, which is neither surprising nor disappointing; her performance is marvellous. Frank Vercruyssen as the nouveau riche Lopakhin who buys her estate is magnificent in his powerlessness. 

That’s as far as the STAN core actors are concerned, but then there is permanent guest Robbie Cleiren, who does a good job of developing Lyubov’s brother. Stijn Van Opstal is convincing in both roles he plays. And then a cheerful  young crowd comes on, which does surprise: we saw Rosa van Leeuwen before as (comic) talent and here she gives shape to the curious role of governess cum conjurer. Also noteworthy is Evgenia Brendes, who nicely embodies the tragedy of Varya.

That said, the secret behind this success is definitely the group process. Because it hangs together, everyone has his plan, knows his place and it is stunningly beautiful to look at – thanks also to Damiaan De Schrijver.

Karin Veraart, De Volkskrant, May 18th 2015

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