I suppose that Chekov might be considered an acquired taste. I certainly know a few people who are not fans.
But I think he gets overlooked a bit by smaller theatre companies, which is a great shame since he is a master of situation and social pressures and a genius at presenting the poetic realism of families in crisis, in flux and, of course, most famously in abject disagreement.
His words resonate still, although sweetly tempered and melodic, they are profoundly and almost serendipitously important in a touchingly intellectual way. He creates dramas peppered with illuminating characters that feel modern and relevant, even though they live in Russia more than a hundred years ago.
Think Woody Allen in a frock coat…
"Three Sisters" is a perfect example of why Chekov remains such an important writer for the stage. Set in small garret town in Russia, the play revolves around the family Prozorovs, three sisters and a brother, and whose parents are dead and all live together still as adults in the family home. The play is set over several years, each act moving the story on to another year or so in their lives so that we can clearly see the impact of many bad choices.
Affairs, gambling debts, terrible marriages and heartbreak litter the Chekov landscape. But it’s the frankness and the intimacy of the long held relationships that we witness deepening, evolving and, in some cases, unravelling that keep us invested and intrigued in “Three Sisters.”
This play is a wonderful opportunity for a theatre company to give really meaty character roles to many of its company members. There are so many beautifully written roles with weirdly, wonderfully, complex psychosis. The humor of the relationships and the winding details of the story allow an audience to really get to know the strange world of the 19th-century Russian middle class.
The Archway players have, once again, risen to the occasion this much-loved play presents. They seem to thrillingly dive head first into the fascinating world of Chekov and relish the time spent with this truly iconic family and their friends. The staging is inventive and spirited, the set intelligent and open giving the actors the full range of their space while still giving the sense of the time and place that helps so much in the story.
Each and every one of these lovely actors gives performances that feel fully fleshed out, totally committed and real. They work together to not only pay homage to the master of Chekov but to recreate the moments lived through by this family with pathos, insight and, above all, humor.
I am happy to report the Archway has, yet again, lived up to its commitment to entertain, take risks and grow as a company.
I highly recommend "Three Sisters." Take the time to try a little Chekov… More info on Chekov's Three Sisters
10509 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601
July 29 - August 26
Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 2PM
Written by Anton Chekov
Directed by Wendi Johnson
Jessica Barrett Denison, John Eisen, Adam David Green, Kate Hart, Jennifer Hawkins, Garrick LeWinter, Sarah Morris, Kevin James Spear, Melissa Virgo, Bree Wernicke, and Brent White. Also joining the cast are Andrew Chilcott, Kelly Cross, Aaron Porter, Marcos Ruiz, and Barry Shay.