Tag Archives: Ian McKellen

The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard


Theatre Royal Windsor

The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard

Theatre Royal Windsor

Reviewed – 14th October 2021



“The sheer magic of this production is the beguiling mix of melancholy and madness; of manners and mannerisms”


The original intention of Chekhov was for “The Cherry Orchard” to be a comedy; yet when it was first staged in 1904 at the Moscow Art Theatre, the writer/director Constantin Stanislavski turned it into a tragedy. If not distressed, Chekhov was very irritated by the misrepresentation of his work. Enough to put him in a mild state of depression. Ever since, there has been much discussion on the multi-layered nature of the play’s message.

Sean Mathias’ production at Theatre Royal, Windsor knows which side of the fence it lies and undoubtedly remains true to Chekhov’s intentions. With the help of a stellar cast the humour of the piece shines through and is maintained throughout the overly long two and a half hours running time. This is no mean feat, given that the characters themselves are generally not the comic type. Yet the wonderful ensemble cast bring out the flaws and the foolishness; the childishness in a seemingly mature group of people. It’s a kind of coming-of-age story for those who have already long come of age.

Fresh from the demands of his trail-blazing and age-defying Hamlet, Sir Ian McKellen is taking a step back, trying to blend into the background as the elderly servant Firs. There is a danger of his cameo becoming the lead but his generosity and sheer attention to the detail of how his character fits into the narrative lead to what is both a show-stealing performance, yet allowing his fellow actors to plunder as much as they can. Robert Daws is an absolute delight as the cash strapped moocher, overflowing with optimism and drunken charm and bouncing off Martin Shaw’s more successful but less confident Lopakhin. Shaw skilfully managed to mix a self-conscious awareness of Lopakhin’s peasant background with a cocksure sense of his own right to cut the privileged down to size (and ultimately cut down their beloved cherry orchard).

Francesca Annis, as Ranyevskaya the owner of the estate, swoops onto the stage majestically. No stranger to personal tragedy, she still seems clothed in waves of happiness. Yet Annis has the skill to show us the many tears and gashes that are covered up. The childlike way she greets her furniture as affectionately as her family is simultaneously ridiculous and tender. Her mix of tragedy and comedy is most (there’s only one way to put it) Chekhovian. But the minor characters also manage to have a major effect. Missy Malek and Kezrena James as the two sisters; and Alis Wyn Davies as the maid, Dunyasha, are names to look out for. Alison Halstead gives a fireball of a performance as the circus performer, trickster come governess, Charlotte. The only one who doesn’t quite seem to grasp the sense of fun that can be had with these characters is Jenny Seagrove, who plays the brother Gaev with a touch too much seriousness and lack of colour.

This is a piece that focuses on the characters and their interactions more than the story. After all, not an awful lot happens. In Act One, the cherry orchard is in danger of being sold, in Act Two it is on the verge of being sold, in Act Three it is sold, and in Act Four it has been sold. The sheer magic of this production is the beguiling mix of melancholy and madness; of manners and mannerisms and rambling lives that are just about keeping afloat. Much to relate to. There is tragedy everywhere, but we don’t always want to focus on that. This show, led by the inimitable McKellen et al, encompasses Chekhov’s spirit and lets us laugh at the seriousness of it all. Even if only for a couple of hours, but it is worth every minute.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Jack Merriman


The Cherry Orchard

Theatre Royal Windsor until 13th November


Other four star reviews this year:
Public Domain | ★★★★ | Online | January 2021
Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hung Parliament | ★★★★ | Online | February 2021
The Picture of Dorian Gray | ★★★★ | Online | March 2021
Tarantula | ★★★★ | Online | April 2021
Abba Mania | ★★★★ | Shaftesbury Theatre | May 2021
Animal Farm | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | May 2021
Stags | ★★★★ | Network Theatre | May 2021
You Are Here | ★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | May 2021
Amélie The Musical | ★★★★ | Criterion Theatre | June 2021
Express G&S | ★★★★ | Pleasance Theatre | June 2021
Forever Plaid | ★★★★ | Upstairs at the Gatehouse | June 2021
Forgetful Heart | ★★★★ | Online | June 2021
Ginger Johnson & Pals | ★★★★ | Pleasance Theatre | June 2021
Doctor Who Time Fracture | ★★★★ | Unit HQ | June 2021
Romeo and Juliet | ★★★★ | Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre | June 2021
Wild Card | ★★★★ | Sadler’s Wells Theatre | June 2021
Be More Chill | ★★★★ | Shaftesbury Theatre | July 2021
Copenhagen | ★★★★ | Cambridge Arts Theatre | July 2021
Gin Craze | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | July 2021
Lava | ★★★★ | Bush Theatre | July 2021
My Night With Reg | ★★★★ | The Turbine Theatre | July 2021
Pippin | ★★★★ | Charing Cross Theatre | July 2021
The Game Of Love And Chance | ★★★★ | Arcola Theatre | July 2021
The Ladybird Heard | ★★★★ | Palace Theatre | July 2021
The Two Character Play | ★★★★ | Hampstead Theatre | July 2021
Big Big Sky | ★★★★ | Hampstead Theatre | August 2021
Constellations | ★★★★ | Vaudeville Theatre | August 2021
Jersey Boys | ★★★★ | Trafalgar Theatre | August 2021
The Rice Krispie Killer | ★★★★ | Lion and Unicorn Theatre | August 2021
Fever Pitch | ★★★★ | Hope Theatre | September 2021
Myra Dubois: Dead Funny | ★★★★ | Garrick Theatre | September 2021
Catching Comets | ★★★★ | Pleasance Theatre | September 2021
Back To The Future | ★★★★ | Adelphi Theatre | October 2021
Rice | ★★★★ | Orange Tree Theatre | October 2021


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Shakespeare, Tolkien, Others & You





International star of stage and screen Sir Ian McKellen is to perform an exclusive one man show at Park Theatre for nine performances only, from 3 – 9 July 2017, directed by Park Theatre’s Artistic Director Jez Bond. Guiding audiences through some of the most exciting pages and stages of the last fifty years, Shakespeare, Tolkien, Others & You will offer a rare chance to see the multi-award winning and twice Oscar nominated actor perform in the intimate surroundings of Park Theatre. The production will be accompanied by a never before seen exhibition of iconic posters, paintings and photographs from Sir Ian’s plays and films, with a number of pieces for sale.

Sir Ian, one of Park Theatre’s key Ambassadors and champions from its inception, is performing Shakespeare, Tolkien, Others & You in order to raise funds for its work (registered charity 1137223).

Over nine special performances from one of the world’s finest actors, Sir Ian will reprise some of his renowned performances, from Gandalf to Macbeth. Audiences will have opportunities to ask questions and participate in the performance, as well as hearing Sir Ian discuss his work with other notable actors and directors. An intimate and unforgettable evening with one of the world’s finest actors.

Sir Ian McKellen said:

“I’m performing at Park Theatre to help raise funds for the charity. In a short time the theatre has established itself on both the theatrical and local maps. But with no public subsidy for core costs they need to bring in donations of around £250,000 every year just to keep the doors open. The monies raised from the higher ticket prices for this production will support their core ambition of producing accessible theatre throughout the coming years and furthering their work with the local community. A number of £10 seats will also be available on the day. I do hope you’ll support this wonderful cause.”

Artistic Director Jez Bond said:

“As one of our country’s leading actors, I can’t imagine there is anyone better placed to understand both the power and importance of smaller scale theatres and the challenges they face. Ian has been a staunch supporter since the building was a hard-hat site – and I continue to be grateful for and humbled by his incredible generosity. He has donated his time to help raise vital funds by performing this show – and I am honoured to be working with him to bring it to the stage.”

Courtesy of Tikveš, certain ticket types include a bottle of their award winning Vranec Special Selection wine, produced with a limited edition label for the show. There will also be the optional extras of dinner, drinks and photos with Sir Ian himself as a bonus package for audiences to add to their evening.


 Photography by Mark Douet






Ian McKellen with Shakespeare, Tolkien, Others & You

Mon 3 – Sun 9 July 2017

Mon – Sat: 7.30pm | Thu, Sat & Sun 3pm

Running time: Approx. 2 hours (including interval)

Age guidance: 14+


Park Theatre

Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP



Prices: £85 – £95 Gala performance: £145.

Day seats: £10 (Limited. Available on the day only)




020 7870 6876*

*Telephone booking fee: 10% (capped at £2.50 per ticket)


Gala performance: Tue 4 Jul 7.30pm

Including wine and canapes throughout the evening plus the opportunity to meet Sir Ian McKellen