The challenge of Chekhov
Original post made
on Sep 14, 2007
Anton Chekhov is one of Russia's most human and accessible writers. Nonetheless, "Three Sisters," which debuted Saturday at the Pear Avenue Theatre, is an ambitious piece of theater which perhaps required a bit more subtlety than The Pear was ready for.
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posted Friday, September 14, 2007, 12:00 AM
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Posted by Shirley
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 14, 2007 at 1:20 pm
i was there with "Theatre goer" and couldn't agree more
for addtional, in my view, far more competent reviews of this work, see the following. these reviews are not without their quibbles, but they - unlike the voice' review - do full justice to this exceptional production
and, here's one from the San Mateo Times (I think)
"Three Sisters," by Anton Chekhov. Translation by Craig Lucas.
PERFORMED BY: The Pear Avenue Theatre
WHERE: 1220 Pear Ave. Unit K
WHEN: 8 PM Thur. to Sat.; 2 PM Sundays. Closes September 30
TICKETS: $15 to $25.
When you attend a show at the Pear Avenue Theatre, it's likely
you will enjoy a performance as good as you will see anywhere.
That's because many of the best of the Bay Area performers are
drawn to this 5 year-old forty-seat enterprise that specializes in
the best of the theatrical literature, irrespective of commercial
And, a chance to perform in the "Three Sisters," by Anton
Chekhov, is just the sort of classic work to which serious
As a result, director Jeanie Forte was able to gather together
one of the best casts in memory. Forte, herself, is an
accomplished, insightful and sensitive director and with these well
cast actors, and another period-inspired set by Ron Gasparinetti,
this sizes up to be a memorable performance.
The three sisters are from the Prozorov family, raised along
with their brother, in comfortable circumstances in Moscow, as
children of a military father, whose death, along with their
mother, brings them now to live in a small "nowhere" town in the
Olga (Meredith Hagedorn) is the eldest, a spinster, and the
inheritor of the "mother of the family" role.
Masha (Elizabeth Coy) is the most beautiful of the three, but
full of ennui from her marriage at age eighteen to a much older
Fyodor Kulygin (John Baldwin), a high school teacher who is boring,
self-centered, somewhat pompous, but an eternally loving and
What Kulygin needs to forgive is her affair with the local
military commandant Alexander Vershinin (Andrew Harkins),
complicated by his being married and with two children.
The youngest is Irina (Sarah Cook), eternally yearning to
return to her happier days in Moscow, even as she is fending off
the marriage proposals of another military officer, Baron Nikolay
Tusenbakh (Rob Dario).
In the European fashion of the day, sisters defer to and
protect brothers and Andrey (Thom Gorrebeeck), needs much of that
when he marries the scheming, more common Natasha (Shannon Stowe),
who sets about to take control over the household.
A 60 year-old army doctor Ivan Chebutykin (John Hutchinson),
is a close family friend, and a cynical onlooker and belittler of
the importance of the typical human foibles that assail this
family, as only Chekhov's great human insights can record in a few
hours, and are the typical dynamics of most upper class families,
David Hamilton is excellent as Captain Vasily Solyony, a
sarcastic pain-in-the-butt guest in the house along with his fellow
officer Baron Tusenbakh.
Jim Johnson is an actor who brings unique nuances to each
minor character role he undertakes and, as Ferapont, the town's
District Council watchman, he brings great relief comedy at sorely
Lynda Marcum is perfect as Anfisa, the aging family servant,
fearful of being thrown out into the cold world as she becomes less
This is a far-looking and perceptive play, set in about 1900,
where Chekhov foresees the decay of Russia's priveledged classes
that are eventually completely terminated by the Russia's
Revolution eighteen years later.
Also, in true Russian introspective tradition, Chekhov blends
in the kind of philosophical musing that only the upper classes had
the education and time in which to engage.
But, that doesn't in one whit diminish the enjoyment of a
great theatrical work, constructed by one of the world's greatest
playwrights, in a very approachable modern translation by Craig