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The seasons are changing, so of course it's time for Russians

By by dianna wray/dwray@vicad.com
Sept. 14, 2011 at 4:14 a.m.

Lucien Douglas and Lauren Lane in "The Cherry Orchard."

IF YOU GO

WHAT: "The Cherry Orchard"

WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday Sept. 25

WHERE: Oscar G. Brockett Theatre, Winship Drama Building, 300 E. 23rd St, Austin

COST: $15-$20

WHAT: Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines

WHEN: Thursday

WHERE: House of Rock, 511 Starr St., Corpus Christi

COST: $17

WHAT: The Tempest

WHEN: 8:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday, through Oct. 1

WHERE: The EmilyAnn Theatre, 1101 Farm-to-Market Road 2325, Wimberly

COST: $15

WHAT: Ether Dome

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday through Oct. 9.

WHERE: The Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Ave., Houston

COST: $35-$60

Around this time of year, when the morning air has a hint of chill and the light takes on that glittery, vivid look of fall, I find myself craving the works of famed, dead Russians.

There's something about this time of year, when life seems to flame up and burn a little brighter, before giving over to the dreariness of winter, that reminds me of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and Chekhov and their tales that flame up brilliant against a cold Russian pallet.

I go hunting for their books on my shelves, search out their plays and watch movies based on their stories. I even become a bit Russian myself, craving vodka, tragedy and their certain brand of good story telling in equal parts.

Well, luckily for me, a production of Anton Chekhov's play, "The Cherry Orchard," is playing just in time for the season.

Chekhov was famed as the master of the short story, but the writer also wrote for the theater during his life, with varying levels of success.

"The Cherry Orchard" was his last play. The story is of an aristocratic family returning to the home they are about to be forced to auction off to pay the mortgage.

The play is both funny and sad. It was based, in part, on Chekhov's own experiences. His family lost their home after some bad investments when Chekhov was young.

Chekhov's writing is engrossing because he implies some things without ever coming out and saying them. He used this same approach in his plays, creating a certain mood with his plays and allowing the actors and audience to figure things out, instead of having his characters say what they're feeling and what their motivations are directly.

This makes for a fine theatrical time for actors and audience alike.

If you're looking for something artsy to sink your teeth into as the seasons begin their slow, almost imperceptible shift, I doubt you can do much better than taking in this play. For me, it's either this or watching "Dr. Zhivago" for the 1,000 time, and, really, I prefer to save Omar Sharif for winter itself.

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