August 21st, 2008

Russians

I think the Russians are out to get me. Actually, that’s just a good sentence and it is semi-appropriate to the topic, which is Chekhov and Uncle Vanya, which I saw last night with Syd.

Chekhov has been, up to now, one of the gaps in my knowledge. I know of his work, but had never read any of his plays or stories or seen any of his work performed. This is probably because I found out he existed after my Russian phase, in which I read many of the usual suspects: Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Fathers and Sons. Several novels in, I discovered that really, nothing much happy ever happens. I decided that I was depressed enough in my own nature and didn’t need any more help in that direction. If the Russian equivalent of the screwball comedy exists, I haven’t heard of it.

Not that Uncle Vanya wasn’t funny. There were plenty of times when I laughed hard and out loud. But the play ends with Sonya’s acceptance of her misery and her extremely bleak hope of a better life after death that I might have felt more cheerful had one or more of the characters actually killed themselves or each other. The very laughter is tinged with hopelessness.

Today I think I’ll watch Mary Poppins. That should be enough of an antidote. Or I could give those Russians a dose of Napoleon, in the form of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.