The Theater: Unrequited Lives


Chekhov's drama moves almost in reverse. Instead of a conflict of wills, there is a frustration of desires. None of his characters do much of anything or expect to get anywhere, but all of them are aware of a nagging, infuriating immobility. Climaxes are anticlimaxes. Precisely because life has passed Chekhov's people by, aged them, defeated them, they bear eloquent witness to how avidly men and women hunger for life. The laughter and tears in Chekhov arise from the recognized or unrecognized disparity between the life one wants and the life one gets.

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