Three Sisters – 4/5 Stars
For all the talk about Chekhov and his plays, he didn’t write THAT many of them. He wrote a ton of stories though. This play immediately draws some connections in my mind to King Lear because as the title suggests, we are dealing with Three Sisters and their various prospects in the world. They are off living in the middle of nowhere, and as happens when you are of some kind of monied class (not that I ever have been, but in the sense of what happens in stories) is that you immediately find any kind of distraction or person or event to do immensely interesting. And so the sisters here, whether married or not are dealing with those kinds of events coming and going in their lives as they live out there.
And so some potential suitors role through, some conversations happen, and it’s all very exiting and interesting.
It’s funny to me how often this kind of setup happens in literature. I started with King Lear, but the setup is not that different from say Sense and Sensibility, to some degree Pride and Prejudice, and most definitely Little Women, all of which Chekhov may have read. But for me what came across as different is that these stories tend to be the domain of women to write about, or have been in some of the most obvious examples (I know I mentioned King Lear, but that one doesn’t quite count, but its counterpoint A Thousand Acres ABSOLUTELY counts in this regard).
The Seagull – 4/5 Stars
I have to confess that the trailer for the new movie The Seagull looks absolutely dreadful to me. I don’t know why but the music they played, the mishmash of inconsistent and absurd accents (I mean don’t they know that all Russians should be played by either British people or people affecting terrible Russian accents?), and so I figured I would just read the play and wait to maybe see the movie.
The play takes place out in the country in a few scenes spread out over several years. This seems to be a kind of escape from real life kind of place where famous writers and famous actors and non-famous writers intermingle. Sometimes a young maiden gets her life ruined and other times a melancholic woman saddles a poor young writer with the burden of herself. Sometimes doctors prescribe powders and sometimes school teachers disappoint. Anyway, a lot is going on.
It’s about the nature of art and whether art comes from inspiration or adaptation of real life or what it means to be appreciated for one’s writing, how to rank oneself against others, and how to make a go at it.
It’s also about whether or not life and art can coincide or if an artist is necessarily on the outside looking in.