By Anton Chekhov
Directed and adapted by Imogen de la Bere
17th - 27th November 2010
Click here to watch the trailer.
Click here to view photos.
As delicate as a string quartet, as sinewy as a rope, Three Sisters charts the tragic unravelling of hope.
The three women of the title dream of culture, and long to escape from their stultifying lives in the sticks.
Although grounded in the Russia of 1900, the play speaks of the universal human desire for love and freedom, and an indefinably better life.
A new version of the play by Imogen de la Bere aims to evoke the wider European context through beautiful and atmospheric music and design.
Lightening the gloom of Sisters
25th November 2010
HAVING seen Chekhov’s Three Sisters several times on the local stage, I have always come away with the view that while it is a stunning piece of writing, it is unremittingly gloomy.
But the latest version performed by OVO at their new theatre in Pudding Lane, St Albans, actually has a stab at bringing some humour into the darkness.
And for that if nothing else Imogen de la Bere, who directs and adapts the play, should take a bow because it is a play which benefits from being lifted in places.
The story of the eponymous Three Sisters who yearn to return to Moscow is well known and regarded by many as Chekhov’s masterpiece.
As Imogen says in her programme notes, there is a strong sense of ambivalence in Chekhov’s script and we never really know whether or not they achieve their wish although the presumption is that they don’t.
She has amassed a strong cast who capture that uncertainty about the future of the sisters perfectly.
Anna Franklin, one of St Albans’ best actresses, takes the pivotal role of Masha who is married to Kuligin – played by Kieran Cummins who brings the much-needed element of
humour into the production – and in love with David Widdowson’s dashing Vershinin.
Alison Wright as Olga and Jo Mills as Irina are both good value in their roles and the trio dominate the play as they should, playing their parts particularly strongly as they react to the fire which destroys so much of their town.
By contrast to the sisters, Jo Emery is a strong-willed and determined Natasha, married to their brother, Will Franklin’s wishy washy Andre.
I also particularly liked Dewi Williams in the role of the drunkard Chebutikin and the strait-laced Soliony, played by Edmund White.
It is hard to write confidently about an adaptation unless you know the original well enough to contrast the two but there is no doubt that Imogen has succeeded in producing a version of the classic which Chekhov would have approved of.
She has certainly succeeded in making it far more timeless than the original which was set in nineteenth century Russia and although it is still clearly a Russian play, it feels far more applicable to the human condition in general rather than just in a particular time and place.
Olga - Alison Wright
Masha - Anna Franklin
Irina - Jo Mills
Natasha - Jo Emery
Anfisa - Sue Dyson
Tuzenbach - Tim Robinson
Chebutikin - Dewi Williams
Soliony - Edmund White
Ferapont - Paul de Burton
Vershinin - David Widdowson
Andrei - Will Franklin
Kuligin - Kieran Cummins
Fedotik - James Pitchford
Rode - Rob Ferguson
Assistant Director - Paula Chitty
Musical Director - James Pitchford
Stage Manager - Kate Kellner
Assistant Stage Managers - Linda Bagaini, Lucy Colclough
Set Design and Construction - Paula Chitty
Lighting Design - Tim Hayward
Lighting Operators - Adam Bottomley, Matthew Critchfield
Sound Design - Janice Cole
Sound Operator - Ric Cole
Costume Design - Antigone Harding
Costumiers - Alison Belding, Jo Emery
Properties - Janice Cole, Kate Kellner
Graphic Artist - Antigone Harding
Graphic Design - Adam Nichols
Video Design - Paride Odierna