Written in 1896 this is a comic play of aspiration and failure. On a summer's day in a makeshift theatre by a lake, a bold new play is to be performed. It is the work of a young, would-be playwright, Konstantin, who is searching for a new, more authentic dramatic form. The play stars his beautiful muse and neighbour, Nina. The assembled family audience includes his actress mother, Arkadina, who has just arrived from Moscow with the famous novelist, Trigorin. What happens during, and in the days immediately after, this play's first performance will change not just the course of the summer, but the lives of everyone involved, for ever after. This masterly meditation on love and art is both comic and tragic, and marks the birth of the modern stage.