All the single (fictional Russian) ladies! Put your hands up! Oh, oh, oh…
More than once I’ve thought it very unfair, that I after sixteen years together I discovered I’d married a cheating dead-beat, and it all went down the toilet. And while my relationships since have been valuable experiences, they too have ended up swirling down the crapper like so much discarded humanity. Still, I’m only thirty-eight, so young-ish. Someone might yet come along that I like more than Netflix and doughnuts. Possibly.
It’s easy to look at other people’s relationships and assume them to be loving, fun, and supportive. Someone may have viewed mine that way once (someone with poor eyesight, and from a distance). But gather round single and divorced people, who may be wondering if it will always be this dismal, and they’ll ever have a proper relationship like what them folks on the television do. Anton Chekhov wrote a play to make you feel better.
Three Sisters is about three sisters (duh) and their brother. Let’s start with him. Not only did Andrei not make it into the the title of the play, but his dream career as an academic never happened, leading to a life of working for the council, and the sweet girl he married quickly morphed into a domineering, self-obsessed, Voldemort in a dress.
The eldest sister, Olga, is a teacher that ends up a headmistress, but she really wanted to get married. And she wasn’t fussy, as she claims she would have married anyone who had asked her, even ‘an old man’. She is good and not appreciated and proof that no matter how nice you are, some people will still treat you like crap.
Masha is the next sister, who when she was very young, married a schoolmaster whom she respected, but has never really grown to love. Then along comes Vershinin, a hot soldier she falls hard for, but he is also married, to a woman he hates who occasionally tries to kill herself by drinking poison. Masha’s husband Fyodor is aware of her cheating, but forgives her, in a sad, pitiful way. When the garrison in the town closes and Vershinin leaves, Masha is gutwrenchingly-awake-at-3 a.m- sodden tissues-puffy-eyes-for-days level of heartbroken.
Irina is the youngest of the sisters, and has never been in love, and agrees to marry the very sweet but apparently ugly Tuzenbach. He accepts she doesn’t love him, but is optimistic it will grow, right up until the moment he is killed in a duel, just before their wedding. Bummer.
Oh but wait, there’s more! Just as the tragedy of this play, which is also a bit of a comedy, is reaching it’s peak, the town burns down, because apparently Chekhov thought these people were having too much fun.
So, lots of marriages are great, and a lot suck, but all the while single people have on-demand TV and Pringles, and the town isn’t on fire, things could be worse.