Theater: Samovars Without Stereotypes THE CHERRY ORCHARD

By Anton Chekhov

Midway through Chekhov's last play, written as he was dying, a plangent twang is heard by the members and hangers-on of a once grand family on the verge of eviction from its estate. Everybody perceives the sound, which Chekhov likens in the stage directions to a snapping string, but each has his own sense of what it meant. To one, it suggests the call of a heron; to another, an owl; and to a third, a cable breaking in a distant mine shaft. In most productions the moment is a throwaway. In a few it hints at the theme of an...

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