- The royal whatzis
- The Cherry Orchard at Artists Repertory Theatre
- Noble Viola on Opus at Portland Center Stage
- Brian Libby on the failed Columbia River Crossing
- Portland Taiko tells a tale
- James E. McWilliams on eating locally and globally
Portland Taiko. Rich Iwasaki/2009
By Bob Hicks
We’re given to understand some sort of white-tie wedding is taking place in the wee hours of Friday morning, and much of the world is agog. Art Scatter does not plan to cover it. With any luck — if the cat doesn’t come slapping at our cheek with her paw, demanding to be let outside — we’ll be snoozing.
And now, on with the news.
Chekhov the composer: On Wednesday night the Scatters took in The Cherry Orchard, playwright Richard Kramer’s world-premiere adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s final dramatic masterpiece, at Artists Rep. It struck us again that, like so many leading playwrights, Chekhov thought like a musician.
There isn’t much story to The Cherry Orchard, but there are themes, counter-themes, motifs. It’s chamber music, and the way we hear it can be startlingly different from production to production, depending not just on our own life experiences (interpreting Chekhov relies to an extreme on what the audience brings to it) but also on the emphases of interpretation on the stage: Do we concentrate on the cello tonight, or the bassoon? In truth, I suspect that even more so than ordinarily, every member of the audience sees a different play when watching Chekhov.
Kramer’s intermissionless adaptation, which I like quite a lot, sets out to rough up the Chekhov-as-wistful-yearning school of thought, and it succeeds. To extend the musical metaphor, it’s a bit like Bach rearranged by Bartok: depths and balances and gorgeous tones, but syncopated and spiked up.