The setting of this play may be in post Revolutionary Russia, but the message couldn’t be truer today. Steppenwolf ‘s latest offering, the classic Chekhov play , “Three Sisters.” focuses on the Prozorov family and how they deal with the complacency in their lives. Tracy Letts transports the audience to a place where they can deal with the questions in their own lives by translating the theatrical classic to the vernacular. This may be disturbing to some of the audience members, but it does translate very well for the purpose of performance. There are no stars here or big celebrity names to draw in the masses. Just a wealth of talent from the vast Steppenwolf vault of talent. Frankly I am bored with theatre trying to promote themselves by blasting celebrity names throughout the media. Collaborating with his Tony award winning colleague , Anna D Shapiro , the two manage to take the dramatic masterpiece and turn it into a conscience examining experience that leaves the audience wanting to continue discussions long after they have left the theatre.
The center of the show is the Prosokov family and they were portrayed to perfection. Caroline Neff conveyed Irina’s transformation from naivete to boredom. Ora Jones shined as the sister who was older, yet not the wiser, Olga. It was actually sad to hear her talk about working as a headmistress when you know it was the last place she wanted to be. Jones ‘ showed her lack of complacency. But one of the performers ‘ stood out the most for me and that was Carrie Coon’s , Masha. She showed her full range of emotions as she demonstrated her lack of love for her husband and the passion she had for the love of her life. Coon was the one who best showed her regret for her actions. Dan Waller as Andrey should also be commended as he went from the foolish young man in love to the bitter married man full of regrets. All of these characters made the audience feel sorry for their lot in life. I could almost hold each of the sisters in my arms and assure them that everything would be alright. I have also seen Alana Arenas in other productions , but the role of Natasha is truly her crowning glory. Every actress wants to play the bitch and she shined as the girl who came into her own after the others patronized her. You could literally hear the boos and hisses.
I was enchanted by the simplicity of the set. There was a lot of props used, but not too much scenery. Some of it was confusing like the scene with the house painted on it with tiny lights in the window. The lighting designer seemed to be on top of his game as he checked each cue before getting ready for the evening performance. The costumer should also be commended, except I questioned why Masha was dressed in black. The music contributed to the time period as well. One of my favorite parts of the set was the swing as a symbol of the youth that each character mourned for. It was endearing to see each character try to recapture that youth that was lost so long ago. This year , Steppenwolf ‘s season examined the effects that war has on the human condition. This piece was no exception . The biggest message that i got out of the piece was that no matter what happens, life still has to go on. That is what I call deep theatre.
If you want to enjoy intelligent theatre, then I totally recommend “Three Sisters”. It has a great ensemble and you will get something out of the production. One of my favorite features is the post performance discussions which allow the audience to analyze and further examine the play . The show runs until August 26 in the Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre and tickets can be purchased by calling the theatre or visiting the web site.
Andrey tolerates his wife Natasha