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don’t sell off the orchard for an apple


19th June 2024


‘What pride can there be, … if in the vast majority of cases (a man) is coarse and stupid and deeply unhappy? We must stop admiring one another. We must work, nothing more.’

Twelve years ago I noticed so many references to happiness in a Benedict Andrews’ production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters at the Young Vic that I was inspired to write a blog about it . So earlier this month I was delighted by the unexpected  ‘déjà vu’ of Andrews’ brilliant The Cherry Orchard at the Donmar Theatre. Similar theories – now or not now, love or work – are aired and debated, in particular by the eternal student and talker, Trofimov. (See ).

Trofimov basically believes that happiness is unachievable in his own day and age. But if we work hard we may make happiness a possibility for those who come after us.

‘The human race progresses, perfecting its powers. Everything that is unattainable now will some day be near at hand and comprehensible, but we must work, we must help with all our strength those who seek to know what fate will bring.’

And our fate – which for Trofimov seems to be tied up with human progress – determines that one day people will be happy.

‘Forward! We go irresistibly on to that bright star which burns there, in the distance! Don’t lag behind, friends!’

But oh how much he wants it to be now.

‘Yes, the moon has risen. [Pause] There is happiness, look, there it comes; it comes nearer and nearer; I hear its steps already. And if we do not see it we shall not know it, but what does that matter? Others will see