Redgraves Head All-Star Cast for OrchardDate: 24 July 2000
When theatre's most famous siblings get together on stage again this autumn they'll be joined by a stellar cast. Vanessa and Corin Redgrave will star in the National Theatre's production of Anton Chekhov's final masterpiece, The Cherry Orchard, along with Roger Allam, Eve Best, Charlotte Emerson, William Gaunt, Michael Bryant, Maxine Peake and Suzanne Bertish. The production, directed by NT artistic director Trevor Nunn, opens at the Cottesloe, the National's smallest venue, on 21 September, following previews from 15 September. It's expected to be a sell-out.
As in real life, the Redgraves play brother and sister. They are Leonid and Lyubov, members of the Gaev family who face bankruptcy and the loss of their estate. Even so, they refuse to sell their largest asset, their famous cherry orchard. The old world is giving way to the new, but the Gaevs seem not to have noticed the bewildering changes in the Russian way of life. The fate of the beautiful orchard becomes a symbol of the fate of all of the characters on the brink of a new world.
The Redgraves last appeared together in 1999's revival of Noel Coward's Song at Twilight at the Gielgud Theatre, but they have worked together before both on and off the stage. In 1994, they formed Moving Theatre, which co-produced the world premiere of Tennessee Williams's prison drama Not About Nightingales at the National in 1998.
That proved to be a hit for Corin who starred as Boss Whalen at the National and on Broadway, receiving Best Actor nominations at the Olivier, Tony and Drama Desk Awards. Vanessa Redgrave is currently starring as a female Prospero in The Tempest at Shakespeare's Globe. Her other recent theatre credits include Antony and Cleopatra, which she also directed, in New York, and John Gabriel Borkman at the National.
Their co-stars have their own cavalcade of distinctions. Roger Allam won this year's Olivier for Best Supporting Actor for Money, an NT Ensemble production. His other recent credits include Albert Speer, Troilus and Cressida and Summerfolk, all at the National, and Art in the West End. Eve Best, currently appearing in The Heiress at the National, won the 1999 Evening Standard and Critics' Circle Best Newcomer Awards for her starring role opposite Jude Law in ' Tis Pity She's a Whore at the Young Vic.
Charlotte Emerson is currently playing the title role in the Birmingham Rep production of Baby Doll, which recently transferred from the National to the West End. National veteran Michael Bryant's recent credits include Peter Pan and Summerfolk, for which he was also nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Olivier. TV stars William Gaunt (Next of Kin) and Maxine Peake (Dinnerladies) have recently appeared on stage in, respectively, The Mysteries at the National and Miss Julie at the Haymarket. And Suzanne Bertish's credits include The Oedipus Plays at the National.
The National's production of The Cherry Orchard is a new version by David Lan whose adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya was staged at the Young Vic in 1998. It is designed by Maria Bjornson, with lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound by Paul Groothuis.