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Three Sisters at The Almeida Theatre | Review

Three Sisters. Patsy Ferran, Pearl Chanda and Ria Zmitrowicz. Photo - Nadav Kander.
Three Sisters. Patsy Ferran, Pearl Chanda and Ria Zmitrowicz. Photo – Nadav Kander.

Three Sisters was written at a time when Chekhov was suffering from an illness which would soon claim his life. It is gloomy. The sisters are bored and trapped in their small town, and each dream of moving to Moscow. Annoyingly this is all they do and you find yourself screaming (inwardly) at them to do something about it.

If a play is to have any sort of shelf-life it will need to be modernised from time to time. Some adaptations work and some don’t: Cordelia Lynn’s version manages to fall between the two. This could be explained by the fact that not all the characters’ dialogue has been adapted. The younger sister Irina, played by Ria Zmitrowic, has been refashioned into a full-fledged millennial whereas elder sister, Olga and middle sister Masha (Pearl Chandra) have not, thankfully, as it turns out. Patsy Ferran, who plays Olga brilliantly, gives the play some much-needed gravitas. Chekhov’s characters’ personalities were always accurately pinned-down, but this is sadly lost in this production, especially by Irina.

At a shade under three hours, and believe me, it feels like it, this is an overly long and confusing production. The mixed up dialogue and some strange choreography with chairs left me stumped. There are some good bits and some stand-out performances, but each time the play looks like it’s about to get going it drifts back towards dullness – Masha even tells us she’s “bored, bored, bored”.

The set is very good. Stripped back bare brick walls and plenty of space for the cast, in contrast to the claustrophobic seating arrangements for the audience. At least those who left at the interval provided some space for the rest of us who were determined enough to see it through.

2 gold stars

Review by Mike Stephenson

Do you ever wonder what would happen if we could live our lives all over again but be fully conscious of it the second time? I bet we’d try to do everything differently, or at least would know to create a different world for ourselves.

In a room in a house in a provincial town, three sisters wait for their lives to begin.
Olga, the eldest. Masha, the middle child. Irina, the youngest.

The clock strikes. A candle is lit.
The clock stops. Something catches fire.
The clock strikes. They wake up.

Director Rebecca Frecknall directs Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, in a new adaptation by Cordelia Lynn (One For Sorrow, Lela & Co).

Cast includes Patsy Ferran (Summer and Smoke, winner Best Actress at the 2019 Olivier Awards), Pearl Chanda (Ink) and Ria Zmitrowicz (Dance Nation).

6 APR 2019 – 1 JUN 2019


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