Monday, 14 April 2014

Three Sisters - Southwark Playhouse


THREE Sisters was originally written by Anton Chekhov in 1900. However, it's been given a 21st century makeover by young rising star playwright Anya Reiss.
She has set the piece somewhere in the Middle East, now, within an ex pat community where the three sisters, Olga (Olivia Hallinan), Masha (Emily Taaffe) and Irina (Holliday Grainger) are languishing with their financially inept brother Andrey (Thom Tuck), and pining for their London home after the death of their father.
There is a brilliant sense of them all being trapped in various forms - that of being trapped in the wrong marriage, the wrong job, the wrong country, a different culture, in a home they don't really like and financially - and the feeling of frustration and claustrophobia this all brings.
Throughout the course of the production these feelings intensify. Andrey pushes them into debt with his gambling, Olga pursues her career as a teacher even though she's not keen to do so, Irina eventually agrees to marry a man who is madly in love with her although she doesn't really feel the same, and Masha strops about the stage railing at how bored she is - clearly referencing her nerdish husband.
It is well acted by the very strong cast and there is a wonderful rapport between the three leading actresses who put in great performances.
Paul McGann is suave and intense as attache Vershinin and Emily Dobb is suitably trashy and shrewish as Andrey's wife Natasha. However, although the audience is never given a sense of lust between her and Andrey, it is perhaps for that reason that it is easy to understand why she has an affair with someone else.
However, there are some elements which don't work - such as why the sisters don't just get on the first plane back to London and why doesn't Masha leave her husband as she clearly doesn't love him.
For Chekhov purists this production may not appeal but for everyone else it is worth a look.

Three Sisters is on at the Southwark Playhouse, Newington Causeway until Saturday, May 3. Tickets cost £18. Call the box office on 020 7407 0234.

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