The Cherry Orchard / Вишневый сад
performed by the Griboyedov Theatre Company on the small stage of the Griboyedov Theatre
This was the most traditional and least creative play I’ve seen in Georgia, but that doesn’t mean it was bad. Everything was done more or less by the book with traditional lighting, sound and staging. I particularly enjoyed the set decor featuring lots of lace; it captured the idea of crumbling grandeur very well. At one point, dresses hung from the lights were used to reminisce over the grand balls held at the estate in days past, and I thought that was particularly evocative.
The actresses seemed to have a little trouble remembering their lines, but they still performed well. The costumes were as expected, but the hairstyles and make-up were strangely anachronistic. I’m not someone who spends a lot of time thinking about make-up, but I found the lead actress’ strange make-up quite distracting, I actually spent time thinking “What is going on with that eye shadow?” rather than focusing on the plot. You can see it a bit in the poster for the play, and I’ve added a close-up of my attempted re-creation to the right. I mentioned this later, and a Georgian friend explained that the lead actress, Guranda Gabunia, is somewhat famous, and in her most famous role she wore that style of make-up. Doesn’t make it good, but it’s something of an explanation.
The theatre itself has been recently renovated. It doesn’t have the antique charm of the other theatres, but the seats are brand new and quite comfortable, and the rows are raised stadium-style, so every seat has a good view. We paid only 5 GEL each, and we had excellent seats, though we had to buy them a month in advance. This show is quite a hit, and multiple performaces have sold out in advance. Oddly, though, we smelled cigarette smoke wafting through the theatre at times.
The play was performed in the original Russian, though my friend who is more familiar with Chekhov said it was abridged. Our non-Russian-speaking friend who joined us said he enjoyed the performance, despite not knowing the language.
There are two more performances (at least) scheduled for the up-coming weekend. Tickets are available at biletebi.ge.