13 July

13 July 1920

2 Portland Villas, Hampstead - London

We will not insult our readers by supposing, as the critics in other journals are forced to suppose, that they do not know The Cherry Orchard. We assume that it is as familiar to them as Hamlet, and that they know that to see it acted, however inadequately, is to feel that it is one of the most wonderful plays ever written. The lights are put out, the curtain rises, and we are there, invisible, transported without any explanation or preparation, to that place and time. That is the peculiar strangeness of it. In other plays we have the feeling that the author and the actors are allowing for the fact that there is no fourth wall; in The Cherry Orchard we feel that more than the fourth wall is removed; the barriers are down between the characters and ourselves - more, the barriers are down between them and their surroundings. All that comes under the author's spell is bathed, is steeped and saturated in an emotional atmosphere which is compact of silvery whiteness, the pale light of very early morning, the chill of frost, and the mingled fatigue and expectancy that breathes in that hollow room where Dunyasha and Lopahin wait for the sound of wheels.
What an amazing idea it is to let the curtain rise upon that homecoming, and to delay the arrival so that we have time to realize the imaginative significance of the ancient house, so soon to be filled again - of the shabby furniture that looks as though it were profoundly asleep; to taste the chill air and to know that, out there, as far as one can see there are white, glittering trees. [. . .] [Unsigned review of The Cherry Orchard in the Athenaeum, 16 July 1920]