From: Friday, 19th September 2008
To: Saturday, 13 December 2008
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Chancellor Rieger is leaving office. But does leaving office necessarily mean that he, his 'long-time companion' and his extended family have to leave the villa which has been their home for years? While his former secretary, and the former secretary to his former secretary, grapple with the mechanics of change and his family prepare to face an uncertain future, the Chancellor himself considers his legacy amidst visits from journalists, an infatuated student, deputy minister Klein and the attentions of his servant Oswald and Knobloch, the gardener. The play has echoes of both King Lear and The Cherry Orchard, and addresses the themes of change, dispossession and the passage of power from one generation to the next amidst the chaos of leaving.
24 September 2008
The Orange Tree season dedicated to the plays of Vaclav Havel, who stood down as president of the Czech Republic five years ago, starts with his first drama for twenty years. Leaving is a rueful farce with elements of King Lear and The Cherry Orchard, interspersed with semi-serious recorded comments of the playwright himself, warning actors against pulling faces, or apologising for a “boring” interlude demanded by the logic of his own play.
The central character, the former chancellor Vilem Rieger (a smilingly ruffled and good-humoured Geoffrey Beevers), is reluctant to leave his villa and orchard but is offered a deal if he supports the new leadership. It is a measure of the play’s playfulness that we never really know what Rieger thinks about anything. He toys with the journalists from “The Keyhole” who are on hand to record his departure, and he dives into the undergrowth with a predatory academic (Rebecca Pownall) the minute she reveal...
Latest User Review
JanD - 5 December 2008:
Saw the play on the 4th December. If previous audiences have been 'wowed' they did not pass on this fact to their friends - the lower area was not full and there was nobody upstairs at all. The first thing to say was that it was very well acted. I never cease to admire the quality of the playing at the Orange Tree and usually thoroughly enjoy everything they put on. However 'Leaving' was an exception. We found it predictable, unfunny, unsubtle and occasionally silly. There were a couple of occasions, not including the sight of the naked young man (the purpose of which escaped us but I am not complaining) where you found yourself gazing at the ground in embarrassment. We seriously contemplated departing at the end of the first half but decided to stick it out - a mistake. To be fair, the reaction of the audience seemed to be quite mixed and we overheard a couple of people saying they thought it was very good. Perhaps we missed something and we still love the Orange Tree. ...
Esther Ruth Elliot