73: The Proposal

2 Jun

Anton Chekhov’s The Proposal is a one-act farce with three highly-strung characters.

The Proposal

Lomov comes to visit his neighbour, dressed in his finest clothes. His objective? To ask for the hand of Tchubukov’s daughter, Natalya. The father happily says yes and goes to get his daughter, but neglects to tell her the reason for Lomov’s visit. Within a few sentences of small talk, Lomov and Natalya are bickering and then into a full scale fight.

Chekhov wrote the play with heightened characters in melodramatic roles and some extremely camp dialogue. Within the first page of the script, Tchubukov has called his neighbour ‘darling’, ‘dearie’, ‘angel’, ‘my precious’, ‘my beauty’ and ‘my charmer’. Not a bad way to create a stereotype in just a few lines!

TCHUBUKOV: My darling! I am delighted, and all the rest of it. […] I have always loved you, my angel, as though you were my own son.

Where Tchubukov is oily and unctuous, Lomov is a hopeless hypochondriac.

LOMOV: Oh, oh, oh! My heart has burst! I can’t feel my shoulder – what has become of my shoulder? I am dying!

Natalya is argumentative and, even though she’s desperate to be married, refuses to concede a point.

NATALYA: I have noticed that men who argue most about hunting know least about it.

LOMOV: Madam, I beg you to be silent. My heart is bursting. (Shouts) Be silent!

NATALYA: I will not be silent till you own that Backer is a hundred times better than your Tracker.

LOMOV: A hundred times worse! Plague take your Backer! My temples … my eyes … my shoulder …

NATALYA: There’s no need for plague to take your fool of a Tracker – he is as good as dead already.

The Proposal is a bit of fun, it’s a farce and it’s in the public domain, which means it can be performed without royalties.

Cast: 2M, 1F

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