Today was a very Chekhov sort of day. And I don’t mean that we sat around drinking vodka and pondering our unrealized dreams. Nope. Today at 10:00 we boarded a little bus out to the country town of Мелихово (Melikhovo) where Chekhov had a little country estate. In the seven years he lived there, he kept himself busy with 1) being the doctor for 25 towns, 4 factories and a monastery; 2) taking care of his large extended family; 3) taking the census for an island of mostly prisoners that had never been counted before; and 4) writing little trifles like The Seagull and Uncle Vanya. It was a lovely day, and really did a lot to put his plays in their proper context, but I think most of us would have enjoyed ourselves more had it not been for the extreme volume of mosquitos following us and ravaging us at every opportunity.
After the tour, we hopped back on the bus and Annie and I strolled down to the Ленком (Lenkom) Theatre to see if I could get a few tickets for tonight’s production of Вишнёвый Сад (The Cherry Orchard). Turns out I could… so ten of us headed back down to the theatre later on to see the production. It’s certainly not the best production I’ve seen, nor the best production of this particular show, but it was very interesting stylistically, and left me with a lot of questions about their approach to the text. The play was heavily underscored, and sometimes we weren’t sure where specific music choices had come from (I dubbed the recurrence of some strangely electronic, pounding music “Chechno”). But regardless of the specific acting and directing choices, the set was a force to be reckoned with. It was highly mechanized – the glass walls moved all over the stage and rearranged themselves throughout, there was a sort of broken cyc created along the back with what seemed like reeds or metal poles or something to that effect… and in the end… well… the set earned its paycheck in a big way when, after Firs is left alone in the house, the house (in the words of Kassy) “ate him, fell over, and exploded.” The spectacle of it was pretty impressive. Really… there were more than a few times when we audibly reacted to the set alone.
After that, aside from a quick detour into the grocery store to get some ice cream, the night was pretty much over, and I sat down to try to convince myself to get some work done. So we’ll see how that goes. Tomorrow we will continue the Chekhov-palooza with a trip to the Satirikon for my favorite thing in the world… their production of The Seagull. Be still, my heart!