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Lopakhin has come to remind Ranevskaya and Gayev that their estate, including the cherry orchard, is due to go to auction in August to pay off the family's debts.
The play opens in the early morning hours of a cool day in May in the nursery of Lyubov Andreyevna Ranevskaya's ancestral estate, somewhere in the provinces of Russia just after the turn of the 20th Century.The play concerns an aristocratic Russian landowner who returns to her family estate (which includes a large and well-known cherry orchard) just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage.Unresponsive to offers to save the estate, she allows its sale to the son of a former serf; the family leaves to the sound of the cherry orchard being cut down.It opened at the Moscow Art Theatre on 17 January 1904 in a production directed by Konstantin Stanislavski.
Chekhov described the play as a comedy, with some elements of farce, though Stanislavski treated it as a tragedy.
The story presents themes of cultural futility – both the futile attempts of the aristocracy to maintain its status and of the bourgeoisie to find meaning in its newfound materialism.