"chekhovOS" transforms a Russian classic into an interactive online game

At the height of pandemic life, the Needham, MA-based Arlekin Players found some surprising international theatrical success by live-streaming plays over Zoom with elaborate set designs that embraced the limitations of the laptop screen.

For their next trick, they've transformed Chekhov's classic play The Cherry Orchard into an interactive online game of sorts, that's already been praised in outlets ranging from LA Weekly to The New Yorker, who described the experience as:

The audience is called on to rescue a number of Anton Chekhov's characters from their unhappy fates. The Russian playwright's subjects convey their plights via e-mail, text message, and Zoom, where most of the action unfolds. "If you are asked whether Lyuba Ranevskaya should sell the Cherry Orchard," reads one such entreaty, "say YES." On a recent evening, more than five hundred virtual theatregoers in a dozen-some countries, from Peru to Russia and Australia, cast their votes, all the while conversing in Zoom's chat.

The show is free, but ticketed, and is being billed as a "work in progress" with plans to add a live, in-person component in the future. You can catch the last currently-scheduled performance on Thursday, June 24.

Full disclosure: I haven't seen the show myself yet, but I do have some friends in the cast.

chekhovOS/an experimental game [Arlekin Players]