The Cherry Orchard, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Atmosphere is everything in Chekhov, and the characters that breathe it are at once distinctively Russian and unmistakably universal – even though this adaptation has been transported to rural Norfolk.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Atmosphere is everything in Chekhov, and the characters that breathe it in The Cherry Orchard, at the Maddermarket in Norwich, are at once distinctively Russian and unmistakably universal.

Flawed and quirky, they come to understand their situation but their emotions remain beyond rational control.

David Gwyn Harris has provided a fluent new translation, Beryl Antony has composed music to capture the mood, and Marcus Robinson has designed a set that gives off an air of crumbling classicism. Sound effects off-stage play their vital part too, as do some of the Maddermarket's finest period gowns.

A strong cast takes its opportunities with skill and gusto under the direction of Clare Goddard. Elizabeth Stokes as Lyuba deploys her rich speaking voice to convey tragic depths.

As her brother, John Stokes makes her emotions all the more persuasive as he maintains a veneer of masculine reserve, even taking refuge in talking about billiards in an effort to maintain his calm. Geoffrey Hedger is a Dickensian figure as the aged retainer. Norfolk accents help give identity to the country folk, contrasting with the odd French word and literary allusion affected by the sophisticates returning home from abroad.

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