Review: Three Sisters at the Southwark Playhouse
This production of Chekhov's Three Sisters is a version by Anya Reiss who has modernised the language and placed the sisters in a British enclave, in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, from where the British army is about to withdraw. The characters have mobile phones and iPads and rather than wanting to return to Moscow the sisters want to return to London.
The problem with going down this path is one of context. The basic premise of Chekhov's play is that the three woman are trapped in a man's world, unable to fulfil their desires and return home because they can't do so without their brother Andrei. Those constraints just don't exist in this modern context and the production just reminded me of that fact all the way through.
In the same way that my inner voice is screaming "just sell the friggin' cherry orchard" in this I just wanted to yell: "get onto Expedia and book yourself a flight". And in the same context would Masha stay with her husband whom she resents?
Stuck in a place they don't want to be the three sisters and their army friends philosophise on their place in society, their worth and happiness. However, all this got clouded by the modernity of the setting and considering its trimmed running time - 2 hours 10 including interval - it felt a little slow and stodgy.
With young playwright Anya Reiss wielding the pen, I suppose I was expecting something a little bolder. If you are going to give Three Sisters a modern setting why not set it in a country where there are still strong societal constraints on woman, for example?
All that said I was impressed with the teary final scene from our sisters played by Holliday Grainger, Olivia Hallinan and Emily Taafe and Paul McGann who plays the optimistic and romantic lieutenant is a handsome and charismatic presence.
Three Sisters runs at the Southwark Playhouse until May 3.
Paul McGann was in Butley with Dominic West whom Mr W appeared alongside in The Hour.