If modern theatre is considered an intellectual pastime not fit for the consumption of the casual viewer, then Tchékhov’s plays strike at the heart of drama’s subtetlies. And rightly so for the plays, filled with undersayings, carve a complex structure out of the amalgam of thoughts and feelings that litter the human psyche.
It would be unfair, though, to describe the pieces as an unintelligible rant. In fact, the plots and characters are robust and strongly developed and despite the apparent mayhem of an histrionic burgoise there is a very fine message that’s never openly uttered but which lingers in the air and, as if poetic mist, hazes the dramatic landscape before settling on the heart of the reader.
Perhaps what struck me the most is Tchékhov’s insistence on the otiosity inherent to the country life, described as a sort of malingering miasma which clouds the human drive and sucks even the steadfast into a state of idleness and bestiality, poles apart from the city life, the vanguard of knowledge, reason and achievement - curiously contrary to Tolstoy’s worldview and ascetic preferences, to whom Tchékhov was a contemporary.
Despite the regret-filled thoughts that the characters have or acquire throughout the plays, I feel there reads a text other than the prophecy for the dark doom of humanity: a beacon, hiding among the words, lighting the path and calling the reader to embrace the rational him, the only fit tool to cross the dark waters of sloth and reach the greatness to which he is bound.