I'm about to head into the fourth weekend of the latest show I'm in. It is a production of The Cherry Orchard, adapted by David Mamet from the original by Chekhov. I am playing Lopakhin, the self-made man with a huge chip on his shoulder who tries desperately to get Lyubov and Gaev to agree to go along with his plans to develop the orchard into a tourist holiday destination.
He has been a very interesting character to try and bring to life. He is at once infatuated and repulsed by the trappings of wealth, although he is good at making money. He is a true self-made man, having moved far beyond the limitations of his upbringing to become a successful business man.
Our intrepid director, Clemence Williams, has aged the character down significantly in casting me. This creates a few problems - firstly, the relationship with Varya is complicated significantly by me being closer to her age. The match between them becomes less a financial or pragmatice decison and far more personal. These are two people who have grown up together. Their whole lives they have been told they were to marry; no pressure! In the face of this feelings have grown on either side - but whenever Lopakhin looks into Varya's eyes, he turns to a useless mess. She rocks his foundations, making him feel helpless to make any moves forward. It is this Lopakhin fears, and why he ultimately fails in his proposal to her. There is no place for such an irresistible force in his world of bold plans and deals sold on confidence alone.
The second problem is to do with Lyubov, and his relationship to her estate and the cherry orchard itself. If he is more of an age with Lyubov's daughters then he has a far greater generational divide from her and Gaev. This is interesting, at least for our 2016 production, as it parallels a lot of the frustration the younger generations have with the baby boomers in the current socio-political climate. This is compounded by Lopakhin's own personal experience of Lyubov, and the aspirational/self-deprecating paradox that exists within him. Whilst this is a point to be explored in each individual production, one could argue that there is a raft of oedipal and Freudian observations to be made within that relationship. Touched upon but not properly explored in our production.
We have two more weekends to play in this world - I look forward to the discoveries.