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The Orchard

Once upon a time, dance fans used to flock to see the great Mikhail Baryshnikov jete his way through anything (and rightfully so). So, they might be the prime audience for “The Orchard,” a rather problematic re-working of Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” now at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Yet, regardless of his celebrity, Baryshnikov proves to be the best thing about Igor Golyak’s intermissionless production, which is sadly overwhelmed by its use of 21st-century technology and truncates Chekhov’s script so severely it barely makes sense.

The Russian-born star brings supreme pathos and comic wryness to the role of Firs, the elderly, supremely loyal servant who worries more about his master’s choice of clothes than his own well-being. And interestingly, though Firs is incredibly feeble – almost unable to walk without his cane – Baryshnikov still brings a bit of balletic grace to the portrayal.

He also interacts beautifully with the show’s uniformly talented cast, primarily the excellent Jessica Hecht, who perfectly embodies the dreamy and tragicomic Ranevskya (and who deserves to play the part in a different production) and Mark Nelson, who precisely captures the pomposity and foolishness of her brother Gaev.

Full disclosure: “The Orchard” can also be watched virtually – which I did not do – but it’s a different text in which Baryshnikov actually plays Chekhov. I am sure he has the right (write) stuff to do that as well!
By Brian Scott Lipton

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Open/Close Dates
Opening 6/16/2022
Closing 7/3/2022

Theatre Info
The Baryshnikov Arts Center
450 W 37th St
Neighborhood: West 30s
New York, NY 10018