Three Sisters Reviews – Chekhov at The Leper Chapel

By Chris Carson:

Having read Three Sisters I was looking forward to seeing how insitu: would tackle it. More than impressed, I found myself immersed in an experience that was both powerful and moving.

A slow dance-like movement of members of the cast as they moved around the set seemed to cast a spell of heightened reality, almost dreamlike. Indeed the play opens with the rag-tag refugee- looking group bedding down for the night and going to sleep. When they awake we become witness to convincing interaction and dialogue, and a natural flow that captivates us from start to finish.

There is an effective fusion of words and movement that serves to draw you in, physically, mentally and emotionally. And a flexible manipulation of time to include the present -characters looking back to the Cold War for example – gives a contemporary feel.

The physical setting changing from a closed-in group to separated individuals who have joined the audience suggested both a tearing apart of the group yet an inclusion of the audience. The empty space we are left with – upturned chairs, broken crockery, scattered suitcases, a birthday cake (amazingly still intact!) – reflects the upheaval in the lives of the people that we have just witnessed.

It all ends with the emotionally-charged words “If only we could know” in the face of a life that bewilders and frustrates, yet still may offer hope, and poses more questions than answers.

A wonderful performance of an imaginatively- presented interpretation of Chekov’s play.

Chris Carson, 24 June 2017.

By Mike Fay:

It’s limbo, nowhere, a force field. We sit in a tight square, then these people come out of the night, strut, fret, and fade away. We see a centre, piles of furniture and objects they must negotiate, and around this they chat and embrace and quarrel and sulk, energising themselves and each other, clambering to momentary heights of oratory, then subsiding, sleeping and dreaming.

There is optimism and despair, solid material realities and empty space. Some haven’t learned the rules of conversation, or maybe have stopped bothering: the words they find sometimes inspire, sometimes betray an emptiness, or get lost in the hubbub, or fall flat, or die away. There is warmth as they rub together, talking and laughing all at once in a passion of agreement, charged, magnetized and maybe ejected. Some have intentions, resolve, projects; some are deflated, defeated; some look towards us across an unknown future. Some just oscillate. Motifs appear as novelties, gifts, shared projects, then reappear as worn-out clichés.

Voices get lonelier as the piece subsides. Anxiety on borrowed time? Random particles? Code programmed to pattern? You’ve got to laugh: we’re a long way from Moscow by the end.

Mike Fay

by Valerie Fabre:

The air is stifling hot and musty in the Leper Chapel, like a foretaste of what is to come: claustrophobic, anxious boredom. But there is not a single boring second or dull moment when eight actors, each speaking in their own words translating Chekov’s original text, make the two hour play fresh, direct and engaging.

In a cramped two square meters, a chaos of chairs sets the stage for the unfolding of lives, becoming stale and sour so they cannot be enjoyed. Driven by obsessive compulsions, everyone does their best to convince themselves of their happiness, or utter lack of it, and to impose order on inner chaos. Shut off in their own worlds, everyone ignores each other as teapot, tray, roses, books, wine decanter, and never-eaten birthday cake are passed around from hand to hand.

Just so, personal revelation is also passed around without being truly acknowledged, and lives are spent without being satisfyingly lived. Infringing into each other’s space, characters permanently crowd each other out of their own territory, while their hearts and heads burst at the seams with unheard words, broken dreams and crushed hopes. By the end the characters’ crisis becomes ours as they – having now found their names, come and sit with the audience.