Sad evenings by the samovar, birch trees, an inexplicably breaking string and three young women moaning about their provincial lives. Few things are duller than bad Chekhov. The boredom can be as painful for theatregoers as the stifled hopes and unrealised dreams are for his characters.
If moroseness is one way to kill Chekhov, another method, favoured outside Russia, is to turn his plays into stiff drawing-room comedies. In his homeland Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) has tended, by contrast, to have the life revered out of him...
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