Friday, June 12, 2015

Wellesley Summer Theatre Company Presents "Three Sisters" by Anton Chekhov - A Fine Ensemble Production

Ah, Chekhov.  Chekhov!  Past Master of unrequited love and of mundane family life revealing cosmic truths.  The folks at Wellesley Summer Theatre Company have brought this masterpiece of the Russian stage to the beautiful and bucolic Wellesley College campus for a run that will go through June 21st.  In the words of Director, Marta Rainer, the troupe invites the audience members to join them in the "collective pursuit of life's laughter through tears."

"The Thrree Sisters" is considered by many critics to be Chekhov's finest work.  It was commissioned by the acclaimed Moscow Art Theatre and first presented in 1901.  Many themes familiar to Chekhov readers are explored in this complex play: the disappearing aristocracy as they struggle with relationships among themselves, with their servants, with a rapidly changing world.  Gambling, suicidal thoughts, depression, unrequited love, petty feuds, and unrealized dreams all play a role in the plot lines of this play.  The action opens on the one year anniversary of the death of the fathe of the three sisters and a brother who are celebrating Irina's birthday.  They struggle with living in a dull provincial town to which their father, a brigadier general, had been assigned eleven years earlier. They long to return to Moscow, where they dream of an idealized existence that has no basis in reality.  Their lodger, Cherbutykin, is a manque physician and alcoholic who functions as a dipsomaniac one man Greek Chorus, often intoning the existential sentiment "Oh, if we could only know what it all means."

And that, ultimately, is the kernel of the genius of Chekhov.  Using everyday events and petty interchanges among individuals who often fail to truly connect with one another, he sheds light on the deep questions of the meaning of life and the purpose for our time spent on earth.  In this current production, the performance begins with the actors in a long line, holding hands, dancing in stylized Russian fashion, with the lines of characters weaving in and out of each other's space.  It is a perfect visual metaphor what what will occur during the action of the play.

Director Marta Rainer, Sound Designer George Cooke, Lighting Designer Becky Marsh and Costume Designer Emily Woods Hogue have created a world in which a fine ensemble cast are able to flesh out Chekhov's characters and ideas.  Since this is truly an ensemble piece, I will share with you the names of the actors and their roles without highlighting individual performances.

  • Samuel L. Warton as Andrei
  • Caitlin Graham as Olga
  • Angela Bilkic as Masha
  • Zena Chatila as Irina
  • Charles Linshaw as Baron Tuzenbach
  • Marge Dunn as Natasha
  • Shelley Bolman as Kulygin
  • Woody Gaul as Vershinin
  • Daniel Boudreau as Solyony
  • John Kinsherf as Chebutykin
  • Zach Georgian as Fedotik
  • Dan Prior as Rohde
  • John Davin as Ferapont
  • Charlotte Peed as Anfisa
Charles Linshaw as Baron Tuzenbach
Zena Chatila  as Irina
"The  Three Sisters"
by Anton Chkhov
Wellesley Summer Theatre Company
Through June 21str
This is a play that any lover of Chekhov or of Russian literature and drama will enjoy.  There is some fine ensemble acting to be seen and celebrated.



Wellesley Summer Theatre Website

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