REVIEW: Vyrypajev’s recombined Cherry Orchard


The play Cherry Man was commissioned by the Drama Theater of the National Theater in Prague and premiered at the Estates Theatre. Vyrypayev called it his farewell to dramatic work.

On the ground plan of Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard, he comes to terms with Russian identity, the contemporary world, its fake and real traumas, including the war in Ukraine.

As with Chekhov, the all-American couple Tom and Jerry return to their house. A black couple, Suzanne and Daniel, lives in it, and they have entrusted the house to their care. And also Uncle Bernard spewing Chekhovian lines of the servant Firs about sour cherries and closed in his own world, in which he feels himself to be a Russian taking the blame for all Russian sins. The ghost of a dead child also walks through the house. During three acts, the past of the characters, including sexual entanglements, is brought to life.

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Vyrypajev claims in the program that he tried to get closer to the Czech audience through poetics referring to Havel’s absurd drama. But his playing is far from Havel’s precision.

It is an authorially re-combined text in which the viewer who is not able to appreciate the Chekhovian references gets quite lost. He gets caught in the stand-up interlude of the firemen’s pair, where the intended awkwardness turns abundantly into the real one. Vyrypayev’s announced dramatic epilogue unfortunately falls short of the depth and appeal of his previous work.

The talented director Kasha Jandáčková tries to get the most out of the play, with the help of a wonderful, somewhat independent scene, as well as the stylized acting of the main five.

However, even the excellent performances of Pavlína Štorková, Radúz Mácha, Vladimír Javorský, Jindřiška Dudziaková and Šimon Krupa cannot dispel doubts about the comprehensibility and mission of the play, which at the end says goodbye spectacularly to the possibilities of the absurd and postmodern dramatic tradition.

Ivan Vyrypayev: Cherry Man
Directed by: Kasha Jandáčková, set: Ján Tereba, costumes: Marek Cpin. Premieres on October 26 and 27 at Stavovské Divadl, Prague (written from the rerun on November 1)
Rating: 60%

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The article is in Czech

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