by Neil Smith.
The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH to 5 November 2016.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0333 666 3366.
Review: William Russell 20 October.
Three weird sisters and a doctor
Inspired by Chekov this is a puzzling evening to say the least. It is not quite clear what Neil Smith is on about other than that when people dream of returning to some lost Paradise, as Olga, Masha and Irina do in the play which has inspired him, they sometimes find, should they get there, that things have changed completely and not for the better.
Smith’s undeniably ambitious play opens with the sisters back in Moscow in 1905, a city torn by demonstrations and strikes and the first ominous signs of the revolution that was to come which would obliterate the Russia they knew with the events in St Petersburg. Then we have a time shift to 2011 in Tottenham with the London riots, which did not lead to revolution, where three other Russian sisters are living Their misfortune is to get involved with Jamie, an extremely odd and dangerous doctor, who hates young Russian women.
The play if muddled, is interesting, has been cleverly staged – the set has gauze curtains which conceal and reveal allowing the changing times to be created most effectively – and the cast of four are very good indeed.
In 2011 Olga (Violet Ryder) is writing a thesis on revolution, Masha (Jill Rutland) is a lap dancer who has brought Jamie (Luke Barton), a customer, back for sex, while Irina (Sarah Collum) appears to be suffering from self injury, – her wrists are slashed – and sleep walks from time to time. The women are all watchable, while Barton’s Jamie, a knife toting psychopath with a wife and family whose horrid childhood explains why he is like he is, is very creepy. Director Ross Drury has put it all together fluently and the evening’s shocks and surprises work, but one suspects Chekhov’s sisters, who could hardly have been totally surprised by the events of 1905, would be appalled at what apparently lay ahead for them had they ever ended up in Tottenham.
Masha: Jill Rutland.
Jamke/Nikolai: Luke Barton.
Olga: Viiolet Ryder.
Irina: Sarah Cullum.
Director: Ross Drury.
Movement director: Rose Ryan.
Lighting Designer: Michael Corcoran.
Sound Designer: Chris Drohan.