14 July

14 July 1920

2 Portland Villas, Hampstead - London

[. . .] So that when Dunyasha cries, ‘There they are!' we run with her to welcome them; we share the emotion; it is only chance that we don't unbutton somebody's coat or carry a roll of rugs into the room beyond. And because we have been there before, have, in a moment of time, waited all night long, there is a special, thrilling meaning in all that is said, all that is done - the silence of dawn is broken, is set vibrating and quivering by the returned travellers. It is very late. They ought to be in bed.
Yes, all through The Cherry Orchard people are up when they ought to be in bed, talking when they ought to be silent, laughing when they ought to be crying, making jokes when they ought to be making contracts. And the critics who have never in their lives left undone any of the things they ought to have done glare and say: ‘This is a tragedy', or glare and say: ‘This is a comedy', or glare and say: ‘This is a bore.' And some of the actors are as bad as the critics. They cannot conceal their horrible feeling of guilt at the unheard-of conduct that a man of genius has imposed upon them.
It is all very sad, and not at all the kind of spectacle which the respectable dramatic justiciars of The Times or the Daily News should be invited to witness. No wonder our colleague of The Times cannot understand why the Art Theatre should have chosen this play to present to a British audience. God forbid that a British family should recognize itself in this mirror, or feel that these creatures from whom the tyranny of the ought has been lifted are of like passions with themselves. And how we sympathize with him when he finds that Leonid, the brother, and Peter, the tutor, ‘are frankly bores'! How we envy him! How deeply we realize that if only we could find them boring we should at last belong to that famous bulldog breed that keeps the Empire going and the circulation of The Times at boiling-point. [. . .] [Unsigned review of The Cherry Orchard in the Athenaeum, 16 July 1920]