For a full understanding of any text, careful consideration must be given to its life in performance. In this rewarding study of four of Chekhov's major plays - Uncle Vanya, The Seagull, The Cherry Orchard and Three Sisters - J. L. Styan demonstrates the development of Chekhov's skills as a dramatist and discusses stage action, portrayal of character, differing twentieth-century productions and the audience reactions they evoked.
'... Professor Styan is admirably lucid and perceptive. He provides an illuminating commentary on setting, costumes, mood and motivation. He demonstrates Chekhov's insistent deflationary methods; the plays' particular and universal, poetic and social aspects; and the importance of time and change. He is our sensitive companion in the theatre, whispering welcome (but not 'definitive') explanations in our ears.' Journal of European Studies 'A careful study of this book would form a most valuable prelude not only to production of the plays but to understanding all that they imply before either reading them or seeing them in the theatre.' Roger Manvell, Humanist 'Professor Styan leads us very methodically through the major plays, act by act, with some additional critical comment at the head of each play. He modestly stresses that 'these commentaries' are not an attempt to finalise some such imaginary entity as an ideal production' but nevertheless, as an introduction to Chekhov and as a stimulus for those wishing to look afresh at the work of this most beautiful of dramatic poets, Professor Styan's book is ideal.' Martin Banham, Speech and Drama