This is a story from the In the Ravine and Other Stories collection.
Anton Chekhov, one of the finest masters of what is acknowledged as a difficult genre. There is the richly comic "Oh! The Public" about a hassled ticket inspector, a wry look at morals and manners in "The Chorus Girl", and the melancholic tale of a cab driver in "Misery".
Perhaps the finest of all is the novella "In The Ravine", a minutely observed look at life in a village through the eyes of one family. All the characters come to life with their foibles, their strengths, and their hopes. Kenneth Branagh uses his natural talent for characterisation to bring this village to life.
The other short stories in this collection are: "The Trousseau", "A Story Without a Title", "Children", "Fat and Thin", "The Beggar", "Hush!", "The Orator", and "An Actor's End".
Following the death of his colleague, Poplavsky asks the gifted speaker Grigory Petrovitch Zapoikin to speak at his funeral. Deeming the dead man a "rascal", Zapoikin nevertheless agrees to give a eulogy. As he speaks, his speech moves some in the crowd and confuses even more. He interrupts himself, seeing the dead man in the crowd, only to realize he has been giving a eulogy to the wrong man, who is greatly offended by his words. Anton Chekhov employs dark humor to great effect, and Kenneth Branaugh's performance is a sly delight, his early restraint concealing an increasing wittiness.
"If you want an outstanding reading, in which the narrator's voice brilliantly conveys the speaker's class and the intricate relationships between characters during conversations, you can do no better than to listen to Kenneth Branagh. This great actor mesmerizes as he gasps, chuckles, stutters, and declaims. A must listen." (AudioFile)
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