Three Sisters: Chapel off Chapel

'Three Sisters' - playing at Chapel off Chapel - by highly acclaimed and influential playwright Anton Chekov presents with an enormous amount of promise.
Three Sisters: Chapel off Chapel
Three Sisters: Chapel off Chapel Three Sisters by highly acclaimed and influential playwright Anton Chekov presents with an enormous amount of promise. The play centres on the Prozorova family, which consists of Andrey (played by James Deeth) and his three sisters Olga (played by Brenda Mckinty), Irinia (played by Kellie Tori) and Masha (played by Jennifer Innes), and superficially deals with the events and interactions of their close knit traditional family in a small country town. A nearby military posting provides the family with a source of entertainment, drama and intellectual stimulation in what they consider to be a cultural wasteland. All the while the sisters dream of casting off the shackles of mediocrity and the monotonous lifestyle that accompanies it. This freedom can only be achieved by relocating to the proverbial land of milk and honey, Moscow. On a much deeper level it confronts the concepts of love, death and failed childhood ambitions. Although with all this potential, and a cavalcade of experienced and enthusiastic actors, this production falls disappointingly short. The script reads like the cutting room floor rejects for a Jane Austen novel in which essentially nothing happens. There is no tension or pivotal moments, which leads to little or no character development, making for a dull and drawn out play. Ironically, the excessively long ‘non scripted’ and apparent natural conversations between characters in which they are ‘philosophising’ for which Chekov is famous for, only add unnecessary elements of repetition and ridiculously unrealistic banter, which seems to only serve the purpose of time padding. While there is ample empathy for the actors for having to work with such a dreary script, it only goes so far. And to make up for the short comings, the actors were prone to over acting, which unfortunately exacerbates the situation. The sets are simple and styled for an early 1900’s sitting room, bedroom and garden and are complemented with a partitioned wall which serves as the other rooms of the house, the house itself or the streets surrounding them. The lighting is simple and there was no music to speak of. The sets and lights fail to bring anything extraordinary to the play, and fit in well with this below average production. In terms of directorial contribution, it was hard to know where the play was going or even from which direction it came, thus giving the impression of a lack of direction. The ideas behind Three Sisters are solid but fail to deliver. Three Sisters jumps between extremes, with parts being over explained, thus disadvantaging the audience from experiencing the literature through personal interpretation, and in others mentioning a motive, event or theme and leaving it at that, leaving the audience questioning and desperately trying to hold onto passing comments between characters in the hope they will be explained or called upon later, an opinion shared by the majority of the audience. Because of these reasons and many more, I cannot in good conscience recommend going out of your way to see this production. Three Sisters directed by: Paul Knox Showing in the Loft at Chapel off Chapel - 12 Little Chapel St., Prahran 28 May - 20 June Thurs - Sat 8pm, Sun 6pm 2pm Matinee Sat 6 and 13 June Tickets: $30 Full, $25 Con and Grps 10+ (+ transaction fee) Bookings: 03 8290 7000 or on the Chapel off Chapel website

Alex Schleibs

Tuesday 9 June, 2009

About the author

Alex Schleibs is a reviewer for Arts Hub.