Chekhov’s most exquisite beguilement


One departs and three more come charging in. It’s always rush-hour for Chekhov in the capital. As the Young Vic’s production of Three Sisters is drawing to a close, the Vaudeville is preparing to host a star-studded version of Uncle Vanya. Up the road, at the Novello, another Uncle Vanya is about to arrive from Moscow. And rehearsals are already under way for The Seagull, starring Matthew Kelly, at Southwark Playhouse. For years, we’ve been recreational users of Chekhov. We’re now in danger of becoming hopeless addicts. How come we’re hooked? Chekhov’s career as a dramatist was short and full of trouble. Early plays flopped. His breakthrough hit, The Seagull, also bombed when it was first performed in 1896 at the highly traditional Alexandrinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. Two years later, a revival at the more progressive Moscow Arts Theatre was a surprise success. Chekhov followed it up with Uncle Vanya (1899), Three Sisters (1901) and The Cherry Orchard (1904). Then he died.

more from Lloyd Evans at The Spectator here.