Three Sisters

Three Sisters
By Anton Chekhov. State Theatre Company (SA). Dunstan Playhouse. 5 to 28 August, 2011

As the title suggests this show tells the story of the three Prozorov sisters, Olga, Irina and Masha. They have been living in a small Russian country town for 11 years after their father, a military man, was posted there. Since their father died the girls have stayed in town, living a high-class life, wishing all the while to move to Moscow. In a desperate attempt to allay boredom they host social events with officers of a local military barracks.

The themes are essentially centred around following your dreams, and the consequences and outcomes of not doing so.

The cast varies in their ability to deliver the often long monologues in a way which holds interest.  Finding nice moments of comedy in the work both Michael Habib as Chebutykin and Nathan O’Keefe as Solyony were great. Kate Cheel as the youngest sister Irina is appropriately naïve for her age, but her hairpiece was unconvincing. Carmel Johnson is motherly in her interpretation of Olga, and Ksenja Logos gives Masha a beautifully hidden soft centre, which develops nicely in the burgeoning relationship with Vershinin played quite valiantly by Peter O’Brien. Edwin Hodgemann hams it up in style getting many laughs from the audience as Ferapont and Renato Musolino presents a very persistent Baron Tuzenbach. The rest of the cast, in Bridget Walters, Roman Vaculik, Nadia Rossi, Geoff Revell and Patrick Graham all perform solidly but it is worrying to see Chris Asimos’ characterisation not vary much from other STC appearances, hopefully he doesn’t get typecast in these kinds of roles.

To be entirely fair, as relevant and interesting as the story may be, it is full of unnecessary exposition (which a script writer would be flogged for writing today) and is exceedingly long and arduous. The set is a stunning design and well lit (both) by Gavin Swift, a nice distraction from the harder parts of the script to endure, but perhaps not distracting enough to see us through.

Big budget, big cast, big script - big ticket sales remain to be seen.

Paul Rodda

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