(Jacob Gallagher-Ross’s article appeared in the Village Voice, 6/20.)
Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya—perhaps his harshest play—is a study in claustrophobia. Its enclosed spaces are literal: Bottled up in an isolated country house, its characters chafe against each other until tempers fray, repressed feelings spill free, and uncomfortable realizations loom unavoidably. But the confinement is also existential. It’s not just the dacha that hems them in: Their lives are the closest kind of captivity of all—time, too, is a merciless prison.