This collection features Chekhov's best-known short plays in brand new translations: three farces, two comic duologues and a monologue, all of them referred to by Chekhov as "vaudevilles" and all written in the late 1880s before any of his great full-length plays. "I don't much care for theatre," he wrote at the time, "but I do enjoy vaudevilles. "
The Bear, The Proposal and The Wedding are all farces on the preposterous busness of courtship and marriage. A Tragic Figure and Swansong are comic duologues: one about a civil servant sweltering in Moscow coping with the incessant demands of his family from their summer dacha, the other about a melancholy old actor perked up by memories of past glories. On the Evils of Tobacco is a bittersweet monologue in which a scientific lecture is hijacked by thoughts of domestic misery.
These accurate and actable translations by Chekhov expert Stephen Mulrine reveal a dramatist revelling in the broad comedy of human behaviour, a comedy which was refined in his later masterpieces.
Highly entertaining, these comic shorts offer a fascinating insight into Chekhov's development as a dramatist, and will provide actors at any level—student, amateur, or professional—with an ideal showcase.
This edition also includes an introduction, a chronology of key dates, and a pronunciation guide.