Written in 1904, not only is Chekhov's last play a masterpiece, it is unquestionably one of the greatest plays of the century. Which makes it the obvious starting point for the bold, brave new world of Method and Madness. The brainchild of director Mike Alfreds, this company is remarkable for its dedication to actors and text in a culture that's increasingly dominated by splashy but vacuous "event theatre". If that sounds pompous or pious, remember that this is the company who gave us a breathtakingly funny and moving Private Lives, the finest Noel Coward revival of the decade. This new production marks the beginning of an exciting three- year cycle, during which 10 actors will appear in a growing repertory of five plays spanning the present century. The last time Alfreds directed The Cherry Orchard (1985), he won the Olivier Award for Best Director. His lucky actors couldn't be in better hands. The audience, likewise.
The Cherry Orchard, Northcott Theatre, Exeter (01392 493493)