Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov

This play was performed in an intimate setting that caused the line between audience and action to blur. The action of the play was situated so that everyone had a unique perspective. The seating mirrored the v-shaped stage that was set with a piano, table and numerous rocking chairs. Everything was strikingly monochromatic. The whiteness of the character’s dress and surroundings did not always suggest a pristine world with pure figures gave off the air of dinginess.  The set had a certain amount of fluidity to it; this made the play artificial but it was balanced by the “reality” of servants working behind the scene like little mice, cleaning up after everyone. It was necessary to move the set around by people who seem connected in some way to the action. The space is “magically” transformed several times throughout the play which adds to the feeling that time has passed. I found the contemplations of the characters and their conversations with each other to be interesting. I noticed similarities between this play and Chekhov’s last play The Cherry Orchard which are both preoccupied by the deteriorating wealthy class in Russia as well as the passing of time. Russian literature to a large degree is about suffering but also learning from suffering if you want to survive. Overwhelming emotion and lack of continuous action on stage might have annoyed some people but I don’t mind listening to people talk, as long as they are talking about something interesting. I found the to be very much so and could tell the actors were submerged in their roles. I loved the leaves in the last scene which were symbolic of the approaching coldness of winter. The falling leaves also foreshadowed the death of the Baron and gave it finality. What was supposed to be happy ended on a sad note but the characters are strong and go on. Music is essential to Russian culture and its presence throughout the play emphasized that cultural difference. They sing, they experience loss and they live on to see more winters, more suffering, more death. I was impressed that the production was able to pull off a play as grim as this one with a cast of such young actors. Their ages certainly clue the audience into the sense that the scene is entirely constructed; as did the strange hanging lamp in the bedroom. What was so impressive to me was how they captured their characters quite well and presented the heavy themes of Russian literature in a fairly believable way.

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