Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg
The director’s latest eco-theatre production gives us fragments of Chekhov’s dialogue and a searing reading of our relationship with nature
The orchard of Chekhov’s play has typically been viewed as a metaphor for social change. In her new version, director Katie Mitchell invites us to see it for what it is: a natural ecosystem, sustaining a complex web of life forms. After more than a century of silence, the trees are finally getting their say.
There is still a cast of human characters in this production but their roles are minimised. Sealed in a soundproofed, glass-fronted box, we only hear fragments of their dialogue, with the rest of the lines muffled or distorted. On screens above them, Grant Gee and Ellie Thompson’s video captures the changing life of the orchard in gorgeous detail. Bees cluster around the blossoms. An ant crawls into a rotting cherry. A hedgehog emerges from the undergrowth.