by Anton Chekhov translated by Christopher Hampton from a literal translation by Vera Liber.

Lyric Theatre King Street Hammersmith W6 0QL To 20 February.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed 1.30pm & Sat 2.30pm.
Captioned 9 Feb.
TICKETS:: 0871 221 1729.

then tour to 27 March 2010.

Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
Review: Carole Woddis 3 February.

Chekhov filtered through the mind of modern youth.
Filter is one of our more adventurous companies. But Sean Holmes’ Lyric Hammersmith/Filter co-production in Christopher Hampton’s adaptation is a fairly traditional reading, uinlike Filter’s Twelfth Night – a real breakaway from convention which tore the play to shreds but in so doing found the play’s true anarchic spirit.

Admittedly, Three Sisters uses microphones to break-up text and highlight certain moments. But this was a technique explored twenty five years ago with more controlled abandon by the groundbreaking American experimental Wooster group in their subversive version of Three Sisters, Brace Up!

This also carries less emotional weight than last summer’s cut-down Uncle Vanya at the Gate Theatre last summer. Indeed Holmes and Filter seem to have gone for the antithesis of the emotionalism so beloved of the usual English approach to Chekhov.

Rigorously post-modern, it’s a bare, spare production with mixed period costuming. Clare Dunne’s Irina carries a definite Dublin tearaway imprint in her Doc Martens whilst Romola Garai’s Masha languishes in belted overcoat and black trilby.

Nor will you find any kind of anguished note in the ending, but ringing tones of defiance. These three may not be getting to Moscow or finding their dreams fulfilled but equally they will survive. They’ll win through.

By the end, you kind of see what the company are getting at. And in a sense, the robotic, deadened quality displayed by most of the ensemble is more resonant for `cool’ Britannia than a hysterical approach. 21st century young Brits don’t readily show their emotions.

When dreams are killed and traumas piled on each other in quick succession – in this case a father recently dead and gone with it a whole way of living; the invasion of vulgar modernity in the shape of sister-in-law Natasha – then exterior responses can look like deadness.

Yes, Three Sisters is about misplaced love. But the Holmes/Filter production brings out the play’s resonances for young audiences today: how it is intensely one of loss and changing times.

Fyodor Kulygin: Paul Brennen.
Nikolai Tuzenbach: Jonathan Broadbent.
Ferapont: Jim Bywater.
Ivan Chebutykin: Nigel Cooke.
Irina Prozorov: Clare Dunne.
Masha Prozorov: Romola Garai.
Vladimir Rodé: David Judge.
Alexandr Vershinin: John Lightbody.
Olga Prozorov: Poppy Miller.
Andrei Prozorov: Ferdy Roberts.
Natasha Ivanovna: Gemma Saunders.
Vasily Solyony: Mark Theodore.
Anfisa: Sandra Voe.
Alexei Fédotik: Paul Woodson.

Directors: Sean Holmes & Filter.
Designer: Jon Bausor.
Lighting: Paule Constable.
Sound/Composer: Chris Branch.
Assistant Director: Naomi O’Kelly.
Associate sound: Nick Manning.

2010-02-09 06:22:42

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