Three Sisters - Review

Anton Chekhov's drama of lost illusions and thwarted hopes, as with all his work, presents a challenge to any company, professional or amateur, that wishes to stage it. His writing requires strong direction to achieve the style required and highly skilled acting talents to give creditability to the characters if it is to be successful. Sadly this production was found wanting in both areas and falls short of the high standard that this company have set in the past.

The story revolves round Olga, Masha and Irina, the Prozorov sisters, and their yearnings to leave a stifling provincial existence and to return to Moscow, the place of their happy childhood. At the end of the play with all their hopes shattered they face a bleak future resigned to the need to survive.

I have to confess that I do not hold Chekhov in the high esteem that others give him. His characters often come across as ludicrous with dialogue that is almost un-playable. Such was the case in this play, particularly with some of the male roles. Maybe the fault lies in the translation.

The staging of the play in the Studio was well conceived with full use being made to convey different areas of the household. However the action was badly lit on occasions and the actors badly placed at times, particularly in the Third Act when five characters all sat in a straight line, facing front.

The standard of acting was of a mixed quality. It was sad to see two actors, who have impressed me in the past, being allowed to mar their otherwise excellent performances with excessive mannerisms. Martin Nicholls found it necessary to emphasise almost every word with flailing hands or dancing feet, thus distracting from the dialogue, whilst Jet Tattersall at times went over the top and produced a caricature rather than a character.

However, on a more positive note there were two scenes that deserve special mention for the quality of acting that produced poignant moments. The first being where Masha, beautifully played by Alex Childs, who trapped inside a stale marriage, confesses to her sisters her love for an officer similarly trapped. The other was the scene between Irina who agrees to marry the Baron even though she does not love him. In the hands of Serena Brand & Carl Boardman this scene was particularly moving.

Of all the reviews that I have done for NVT this has been the hardest and saddest for me to do.

Barrie Jerram