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 business 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 reveling in the broad comedy of human behavior, 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.