Review: “The Cherry Orchard” by Anton Chekhov – Melbourne Theatre Company

The Cherry Orchard is one of Chekhov’s famous plays. Thats a good opening sentence for a review. Spell out the literal meaning of the title.

I had never seen or read this play and my only other experience with Chekhov was Sydney Theatre Company’s production of “Uncle Vanya” which I struggled to concentrate in. But I think that was more to do with the minties I had stuck in my teeth. In Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of “The Cherry Orchard”, I chose not to not eat minties, so was hooked from the beginning. A clever mix of comic timing and strong performances.

Director Simon Stone has adapted the classic Russian playwright’s work into the modern tongue, yet has stuck to the original quite closely (well so I have heard, since I won’t pretend to have 100 pages of scribbled notes on the original).  Such an amusing fella, that Chekhov. A  rich family of Russians all come together as their estate is up for auction due to the debts they owe. What makes up most of the estate, is the Cherry Orchard, hence the name. They sit around reflecting and also thinking about the future, what is to become of their heritage. It is considered both a tragedy and a comedy and I feel in this version, both styes were harmonised (professional choir harmony, not school choir harmony).

Standout performance for me, was the Maid (Dunyasha), played by Nikki Shiels. Shiels brought a life into the character that I don’t see that often. Though the Matriarch of the family (Andreyevna) grew on me, played by Pamela Rabe, as the sad and lost soul that she was.

I will admit I was confused at what time period it was set in. I assumed from the beginning it was present day with everyone choosing to be rich hipsters. Only did it click in my mind during Act Four “Winter” that it was set in the 1970s, as I had not seen anyone use a single electronic device other than a giant walkie talkie and an overhead projector. But hey, I was an audience member interpreting it how I chose. And it seemed to work in my head as a wealthy family who opted to wear op shop clothing, along with a butler that was literally 120 years old.

No doubt this season will sell well, so check it out! Playing at the Sumner at the Southbank Theatre, Melbourne from 10 August to 25 September 2013. Get your tickets here.

MTC Cherry Orchard

Deal with God

Ten years ago, I made a deal with God.

I was at church on a Sunday morning, and my friend Ruth announced to our group of friends that she was going to go on a mission trip to Chile. Everyone smiled and patted her on the back, saying how exciting that was and good on her for taking up God’s calling. Inside, for some reason, I felt a nudge. Was it God’s calling?

All afternoon I was thinking about the concept, and what Ruth was going to do. She was going to serve God, tell people about his love and kindness, and how they can be saved from their sin. I wanted people to see that about me. I wanted them to not think anything else other than, “Wow he is one godly guy”. But deeper than that, I wanted something much bigger.

So that afternoon I sat down, looking out across my backyard from my bedroom and simply said, “God, I feel you want me to go to Chile. If I do, will you make me straight?”.

“Will you change all these feelings inside, make me smile on the inside and not feel so empty? I know what I am, and I am told everyday that it is not something I can be. So I ask you change me, as you have the ability to.”

I stood up, and went downstairs.

That night, I told everyone in our group I was going to join Ruth on the mission trip to Chile. I got big hugs from Ruth and those around me. God would make it all just perfect.

On that trip, I was to learn a list of lessons, that I never would have written myself. The mission itself, what we were going to achieve, who knows how that impacted anyone. It isn’t up to me to know that. But I got a real sense for the first time, of just being myself and a set of strangers became my friends based on that. One step closer to the bigger lesson.

Chile kids

Now ten years later, I am proud to say that God never wanted to make me straight. Cause who he made me to be, was nothing but spot on how he had planned. It may be quite a soppy post, but it makes me think about all the other fellas out there, who are going through the exact same thing. Making deals with God, begging him to accept them, change them. But how God’s heart must break to hear these prayers. Such ignorant hatred being spread throughout the world, in not just Christianity, but through cultures and forms. One day, I would like to think this never happens anymore.

Chile Australian flag


If I was to look back on stories in the last year or so, many of them happen on a Melbourne Tram. I live in Melbourne and I catch trams regularly, so this opening sentence really should not be a surprise to me. Maybe to you, but definitely not me.

A middle aged man, who looked like he may live quite rough (there are quite a few in the area I work in) stepped onto the tram. The touch on point for the Melbourne Myki card system was at the entry. He did not have a Myki card and so did not pay, though he pushed a pretend button and stooped in close to the machine. He then spoke into it saying, “teleportation complete”, and sat down on a nearby seat. He seemed quite happy with himself, his mission obviously over.

A little boy, probably 4 years old, gets on every morning, insisting on sitting on the same orange seat. He gets on with his grandmother who is a typical Aussie grandmother. A mixture of cranky and laughter. Some days she laughs at him asking a stranger to get off his seat, other days she drags him down the other end of the tram.


An older lady stepped up into the tram but failed to get inside. So I offered my assistance, and helped her up. The older trams are quite the battle for elderly people. Little did I realise that this was not an older lady, but a woman in her 40s who had been obviously drinking all night, who began shouting at everyone. Yep, thank me later everyone.  I do have to say you rarely see older ladies like below.



I sat on a tram once (yes there is a tram theme in this post), and I started to hear One Direction blaring out quite close. I looked at the guy beside me, who was looking back at me. Then it hit me, my phone was on loudspeaker and blaring out the pop hit. I.HAVE.NO.IDEA.HOW.THIS.EVEN.HAPPENED. But I acted casually.