Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters

Ora Jones as Olga in “Three Sisters”

This week our little theater group attended the last of a five play series titled “Three Sisters.” The play is by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. Steppenwolf ensemble member Tracy Letts adapted the work for an American audience. The subscription this year featured stories that were in some way connected to war. All were very good, but two of them were outstanding. Three Sisters is one, the other was “The March” a story about the Civil War.

I’ve seen two Russian works in my life. The first an opera, and now this play. Both impressed me as being somewhat oppressive. The long cold winters in Russia must make people morose. I don’t recall the name of the opera anymore, but I do recall the ride home from the Lyric Opera House. It was an October night and Chicago experienced its first heavy snowfall. Being so early in the season, there were no plows to clear the roads. The leaves were still on the trees and the snow heavy and sticky. Tree limbs and whole trees came down from the weight. We made it home, but the memory of the opera is dim in contrast. I do remember the entire set being in black and white. The background setting for Three Sisters was in black and white.

Writers proclaim that plays by Chekhov were “born for ensemble.” Tracy Letts certainly gave us an adaptation that is perfect for the Steppenwolf ensemble. The story had moments of comedy, pathos, sorrow, longing, and life emotions. The actors became the characters and were quite believable in their roles.

If you get the chance to see this play do. My little theater group came a way rating “The Three Sisters” the best of the series.

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