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“This is not Chekhov speaking,” wrote Bentley in an essay about “Vanya.” “It is an overwrought girl comforting herself with an idea.”
What might have been
This nuanced landscape is such a key part of Chekhov. He writes in sepia tones, not loud colors, and submerges his plot in daily life.
“I love Chekhov,” said actor Craig Johnson, who played Vanya for Gremlin Theatre in an adaptation he wrote. “All theater people love Chekhov. His characters are so rich and deep, and his voice is so ironic and sympathetic and nonjudgmental.”
For the volumes that Chekhov wrote — the short stories, the smaller farces, the newspaper columns and letters — he left us only four major works before dying of tuberculosis. The temptation is to imagine what more he might have written, given a long life. But just as it is for the characters he wrote, long life was not necessarily a guarantee of greater things.
“I look at Tennessee Williams, the genius that flowered in him for those great, great plays that changed American theater, and then the sad decline,” said Dowling. “There is a period of genius. In the broad spectrum of things, what more could Chekhov say than he already did?”
Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299