Sunday, December 24, 2017

Apollinaire Offers An Early Holiday Gift - A Lavish Production of Chekhov's "The Three Sisters"

Director Danielle Fauteux Jacques has pulled out all the stops for this vibrant and lavish production of Chekhov's "The Three Sisters," with a fresh translation by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Letts. The action is set in three separate location's within the theater, allowing the audience to be fully immersed in imagining what it must have felt like to be a fly on the wall in the unhappy home of the eponymous three sisters. The first two rooms are lavishly appointed in period furnishings and art work - also designed by Ms. Fauteux Jacques. The gorgeous costume designs by Elizabeth Rocha complete the mis en scene that transported us back to pre-Revolution Russia in the hinterlands far from Moscow. Sound Design is by Camilo Atehortua.

The action begins one year to the day after the death of the pater familias, who had been a high ranking military officer. His three grown daughters are left bereft of parental guidance and purpose in life. They are each miserable in their own way, living out central themes that crop up in all of Chekhov's plays - boredom, ennui, existential despair, nihilism, and psychosomatic symptoms of rootlessness. Layer on top of these self-imposed afflictions the inability of most characters to find meaningful connection with one another, and you have the ingredients for a sometimes humorous tragedy. For underneath his persistent pessimism, the playwright buries subtle humor, sometimes in the form of Shakespearean fools.

Deniz Khateri as Masha
Becca A. Lew is as Olga
Siobhan Carroll as Irina
"The Three Sisters" by Anton Chekhov
Translation by Tracy Letts
Apollinaire Theatre Company
Through January 21st

The three Prozorova sisters are Olga (Becca A. Lewis), Masha (Deniz Khatreri), and Irina (Siobhan Carroll). The three actors are universally excellent and consistent in portraying Chekhovian despair. They are joined by a coterie of equally fine supporting cast members:
  • Michael John Ciszewski as Baron Tusenbach, Irina's intended, but whom she does not love.
  • Paul Benford-Bruce as the dipsomaniac Dr. Chebutykin, who often intones, "What does it really matter?"
  • Jon Vellante as the perpetually annoyed and socially awkward soldier, Solyony. who ends up challenging the Baron to a duel because they are both in love with Irina. This character does not have many lines, but he is pivotal in conveying Chekhov's world view. He often pulls from his pocket a spray bottle of perfume and sprays his wrist. It is only at the end of the play that he remarks,"I can't seem to get the stench of corpses off of me." Chekhov seems to be saying that as a playwright, he can't get the stench of existential and self-imposed death out of his mind, for it seems to infect each of his characters.
  • Evan Turissini as Andrey, the brother of the sisters. He gives up a promising career as a violinist to marry badly and become enmeshed in a life of profligacy and gambling debts.
  • Olivia Dumaine as Natasha, Andrey's wife. This character undergoes a dramatic arc, and Ms. Dumaine is impressive as she takes Natasha from being a shy, socially awkward girl to becoming a shrieking harridan. She is having an affair with off-stage Protopopov.
  • Brooks Reeves as Kulygin, the teacher married to Masha. He is the only character in this play to perennially proclaim that he is happy and satisfied - only because he is blind to the reality that he is being cuckolded, as Masha has fallen in love with the married Colonel Vershinin.
  • Juan Carlos Pinedo as Vershinin, married to a woman who tries to get his attention by attempting to commit suicide with stunning regularity. He knew the girls' father in Moscow, and often reminisces about the place with them.
  • Demetrius Fuller as Fedotik, a soldier in love with Irina.
  • Robert Orzalli as Rode, another soldier who hangs out at the home of the Prozorov family, and who with Fedotik provides incidental music throughout the play.
  • Arthur Waldstein as Ferapont and Barbara Bourgeois as Anfisa, both superannuated household servants who have outlived their usefulness, but who continue to hang on.
  • Zaida Ramos as a young maid.
  • Vijaya Sudaram and Slava Tchoul as traveling musicians.
"The Three Sisters" by Anton Chekhov
Translation by Tracy Letts
Apollinaire Theatre Company
Through January 21st

Because of the intimate setting, audience size is limited to 30 persons for each performance. Last evening, the house was full and sold out. So, do not hesitate to shop on linenfor one of the rare tickets, and give yourself a Christmas or New Years' gift of a trip to Chelsea and the home of the Prozorov family.



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