By Paulanne Simmons
Walking into the BAM’s Harvey Theater one is immediately struck by the way the set for Maly Drama Theatre’s The Cherry Orchard seems to overflow from the stage. There’s even a pool table that seems to be sitting somewhere in the first few rows of seats.
It soon becomes apparent not only the furnishings work outside the proscenium arch. Characters enter and exit via the aisles. Sometimes they make a complete circle exiting the stage by way of one aisle and coming back by another. This is just one of the joys of watching The Cherry Orchard.
The other great pleasure is the extraordinary cast led by the impeccable Ksenia Rappoport as Lyubov, the down and out aristocrat who returns to her ancestral estate just as the family’s beloved cherry orchard is about to go to the auction block; and the exuberant Danila Kozlovskiy, who plays Lopakhin, the former peasant who buys it.
The entire cast is magnificent when it comes to creating special moments onstage, moments of regret, loss and love, all those emotions that have made Anton Chekhov’s plays so dear to our hearts for so many decades. Director Lev Dodin certainly knows how to extract every moment of loving foolishness and foolish loving out of this play.
So far so good. However, there are also many moments of self-indulgence that make this production unnecessarily long and tedious. Are all those pauses really necessary? And, although Koslovsky’s antic dancing and bizarre rendition of “I Did it My Way” are highly entertaining, they go on much too long and don’t seem entirely related to the rest of the play.
We all know it’s difficult to accept change, especially when that change means leaving a beloved home. But the last scenes of this production go on for so long we have the impression the cherry orchard might well be chopped down and replanted by the time the family packs, locks up and leaves.
The Cherry Orchard ****
BAM Harvey Theatre, 651 Fulton St., Brooklyn, 11217
until Feb. 27.