Three Sisters by Anton Chekov. Free Rain Theatre Company directed by Catherine Mann at The Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre. Friday-Saturday August 15-16, Wednesday-Saturday August 20-30, 2008, 8pm. Matinees Saturdays 2pm, Sunday August 24, 5pm.
In this translation, by Nicholas Wright, the doctor Chebutkyn (Oliver Baudert) declares “It doesn’t matter,” as lives fall apart all around him, emotionally and literally. But we know it does matter that Chekov created this drama of the unfulfilled lives of the three Prozorov sisters, Olga (Lainie Hart), Masha (Leah Baulch), Irina (Alison McGregor) and their brother Andrey (Dallas Bland).
We also know that it does matter that director Mann and all her large cast, including Barbara Sekuless (Anfisa), Duncan Ley (Vershinin), Soren Jensen (Baron Tuzenbach), Duncan Driver (Solyony), Scott Cummings (Fedotik), Paul Leverenz (Rodé), Robert de Fries (Kulygin), Hannah Meredith (Natasha), Richard Anderson (Ferapont) and Katherine Olsen (Maid), provide us with a well-crafted presentation of Chekov’s characters, their relationships, their dreams of future happiness - in 300 years, they say.
What an irony it is to look around our world after 104 years since Three Sisters was first performed. Maybe more people than ever before have more material wealth, but the Russian and Georgian armies still behave as they did in Chekov’s days, and clinical depression seems even more common. Yet Chekov saw strength in his women in the end. Masha says “We shall be left alone to start our life anew. We must live.” Irina says “The time will come when there will be no more secrets, when all that is now hidden will be made plain.” Olga says “I want to live. We shall be forgotten . . . but our sufferings will pass into joy for those who live after us.”
200 years to go. Can we make it? The intelligence and sense of unity in this production says we can. The art of theatre is to create the illusion of truth. Chekov wrote the truth, and Free Rain have successfully staged his work. There is satisfaction in their art which says, yes, “We must live.”
© Frank McKone M.A.,
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