Sunday, 7 August 2016

Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters

Three Sisters. Photo: Marnya Rothe
Anton Chekhov's first play, Three Sisters, was written in 1901 for the Moscow Arts Theatre and presents the story of three sisters over the course of several years. There is Olga (Janine Watson), the eldest, a teacher, who appears to be the more sensible of the three. Masha (Paige Gardiner), the middle sister who married at eighteen to a man she has come to dislike and disparage. Lastly there is Irina (Zoe Jensen), who is celebrating her naming day as the play opens and the three sisters reflect on the year before when their father died. The party is soon joined by military men Baron Tuzenbach (Graeme McRae) and Solyony (Dorje Swallow), as well as close family friend Chebutykin(Noel Hodda). 

The family are spoilt and indulged, discussing how they have never worked but how fulfilling they imagine it would be. The sister's studious brother, Andrey (Tom Campbell) is studying to be a professor and is in love with an entirely unsuitable woman, Natasha (Lauren Richardson), whom his sister's view as "common". The Baron professes his love for Irina and a flirtation develops between Masha and the mysterious Vershinin (Justin Stewart-Cotta).

As we enter into the second Act, several years have passed, Andrey and Natasha are unhappily married and he has sacrificed his academic career for the local council, Masha and Vershinin continue their affair, and Irina, now pursued by both the Baron and Solyony, is despondent and longing to return to Moscow where she feels she will find a better suitor. A fire sees Olga roll up her sleeves and serve her community while the other sisters remain self-indulgent and sullen. To be honest, most of the characters are rather unsympathetic and talk nonsense, except Olga who appears to be the only person to consider others feelings instead of her own when she jumps to the defense of the maid Anfisa (Lyn Pierse).

Three Sisters was funnier than I had expected which made for a nice diversion from some of the heavy "philosophising" which was a common occurrence. The entire cast were exceptional, with a genuine family dynamic that was entirely authentic. There was an overwhelming sense of despair at the conclusion of the play, and an acceptance of ones fate which each of the sisters had accepted and resigned themselves to.

As I left the theatre I heard a fellow theatre-goer say "Well, I feel really good about my life right now" - and perhaps this is how best to sum up Three Sisters - an expertly performed display of how things could always be worse. 

More information and to book check out the website.          



Three Sisters. Photo: Marnya Rothe

Three Sisters. Photo: Marnya Rothe
Three Sisters. Photo: Marnya Rothe

Three Sisters. Photo: Marnya Rothe

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