Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters mesmerizes, astounds audience

By Brianne Simone || Contributing Writer

Before the play had even begun, the audience found themselves steeped in an ethereal atmosphere. Music drifted down from the ceiling, bringing the mood of the play, melancholy with a tinge of hope, to us. As fortune would have it, the young woman in the seat next to me helped build the set, and she explained that the set was built with space in mind. Unlike other plays, where the set is as much a character as the players, the set of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters was really more of a prop. It certainly had presence, as the characters love and hate the setting in equal measure, but it’s main purpose was to help the other characters shine. And shine they did!

The leading actresses, Charlie Wynn, Clare Fitzgerald, and Maia Chicherio, were stunning as the titular three sisters, Olga, Masha, and Irina. At the beginning of the play, their wardrobe establishes their age and positions, rendering any extra exposition towards that end extraneous. Olga is the oldest in gray, Masha is the middle child, aloof and biting in black, and Irina is the youngest, innocent and fun in white. Throughout the play, they evolve from three young girls who can only lament the loss of their home in Moscow to three young woman who can face life with strong backs. Their growth and devotion to each other is truly one of the most moving aspects of the play.

Besides the sisters are the suitors, the servants, and Natasha. One of the suitors, Solyony, is positively grating. He spends most of the play either being creepy or making quaking noises. Of course, you’re not supposed to like him. His character’s sole function is essentially to be the rain cloud of the party. That being the case, his actor’s portrayal was excellent. The servants were also incredible. Despite being comic relief, they managed to move effortlessly from comedy to heart wrenching hurt and heartwarming kindness. There is a beauty in their simplicity and their small microcosm of happiness that permeates the entire play. The peace within themselves that they exhibit is what the other characters are all striving for, after all.

And now for the character that is so deliciously wicked I actually found myself looking forward to her every appearance. She’s gaudy, loud, noisy, bossy, and just downright mean. And she’s an absolute joy to watch. Something about the way the littlest things set her off, propelling her into a set destroying tantrum, is just fun. She bursts in on intimate scenes between characters without any regard for anyone but herself and she insults and bullies old women, all while never truly losing her overly cheery demeanor.

This play, and its characters that tease and love and interrupt each other in turn, was absolutely worth seeing. When an audience member asked the actors how long they’d been practicing, one of the actors chuckled and replied, “What year is it out there?” They’ve actually been practicing since November. And it showed. To everyone who worked on Three Sisters, you did it. You took one of the hardest plays to act out on stage, and you turned it into a masterpiece. Chekhov would be proud.

Senior Brianne Simone is a contributing writer. Her email is bsimone@fandm.edu.

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