Barbara Castonguay

Three (Impressive) Sisters

By - Feb 21st, 2010 07:32 am
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The world we long for and the world we accept and inhabit are often at odds. Chekhov’s Three Sisters face this situation, in a tale of the decay of the privileged class in Russia and the search for meaning in life and in the modern world.

Olga, Masha, and Irina are upper-class, cultured young women who were raised in urban Moscow but have been living in a small, stifling provincial town for 11  years. After their father’s death, their hope for a return to Moscow comes to represent their hopes for happy and fulfilling lives. Unfortunately, adult responsibilities and the complications of everyday living close in around them, and not one finds the gold at the end of the rainbow.

Maureen Kilmurry directed Milwaukee’s latest production of Chekhov’s classic, for  Windfall Theatre. The company transformed the intimate space at Village Church Arts into a theater-in-the-round, in honor of the 150th anniversary of Chekhov’s birth.

The cast of Three Sisters.  Photo courtesy of Windfall Theatre.

The cast of Three Sisters. Photo courtesy of Windfall Theatre.

Three Sisters is at times funny, charming and witty. As the characters’ lives devolve through their own inaction, the play transforms itself into a thought-provoking and utterly heart-wrenching drama.

Army doctor Chebutykin, played by Michael Kane, feels his knowledge slipping away. He sees futility in life and utter meaninglessness in human struggle. Could he be speaking for Chekhov, a doctor himself? Kane is impressive in this role, embracing the physicality and mannerisms of a man whose body and mind are slowly deteriorating.

Natasha, played by Liz Mistele, is appropriately revolting as a woman who marries into the family and ultimately usurps control and ownership of the sisters’ home. Bethany Ligocki’s Irina is a charming and innocent young thing, though her character lacks depth. Carol Zippel plays Olga, the oldest sisters. Her transformation from young, optimistic family matriarch to defeated and begrudging headmistress is remarkable.

Amy Hansmann disappears into Masha, the middle sister. She swings wildly between bitter resentment and flushed ecstasy. Her scenes with lover Vershinin, played passionately by Robert W.C. Kennedy, produce palpable chemistry. These two characters are the most interesting of the play. They’re the ones we root for. They’re the ones who break our hearts.

Three Sisters opened Feb. 12th and runs through Feb. 27.  All shows at 8 p.m.  For more information (including the upcoming Sunday in the Park with George) visit Windfall Theatre or call 414-332-3963.

Categories: Theater

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