‘Your grandfather, and his father, and all your family going back, they owned living souls. The dead are looking at you and whispering to you from every tree in the cherry orchard, from every leaf and every branch. The ownership of human beings! You’re all of you corrupted by it.’
Russia, late nineteenth century: Madame Ranevskaya returns home to the estate she grew up on as a child, bankrupt, impoverished, and surrounded by a disparate and self-obsessed group of family, dependants, neighbours and servants. There she receives an offer from an ex serf turned successful merchant: cut down the famous, huge cherry orchard, a place of incredible beauty and sentimental value, and turn nature into profit, or face having to sell up the entire estate, disband the community of the house, and lose their home for good. Chekhov’s masterful tragicomedy, brought to you here through Tom Stoppard’s translation, tells the story of a family in decline, and a society in change, illuminating themes of abusive relationships, environmentalism and class politics which remain as startlingly immediate today as they were in Chekhov’s time.