Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Three Sisters" Makes Me Glad There is Divorce!

"Three Sisters" Makes Me Glad There is Divorce!
Anton Chekhov
Presented by the
Pittsburgh Irish Classical Theatre
Review by JoAnn R. Forrester, ‘Empress of Biz

Ah Chekhov…he makes me glad there is divorce!
Let me first say---- that I am truly delighted at the excellent quality of productions that the Pittsburgh Irish Classical Theatre presents to our city.  PICT gets it Right!   They are a true asset to the arts in our city.   PICT’s presentation of the play Three Sister by Anton Chekhov is another example of an exceptional high quality production.

I personally have a love/hate relationship with Chekhov.  I recognize he is, was and always will be recognized as a comedo-tragic genius and as such is revered for his work and the impact he had on the development of theater in the 20th century.
Cast of Three Sisters with Adrian Blake Enscoe
 and Vera Varlamov in the forefront as Fedotik and Irina
Photos by Suellen Fitzsimmons
 Chekhov was writing in a time of rigid class structure and social restrictions reigned.   The role of women was very limited and personally I find this annoying.  The  recurring theme in the play was the desire of the three sister, Olga,(Nike Doukas) Masha (Allison McLemore) and Irina (Vera Varlamov) to return to Moscow, the city of their birth and childhood were there was, arts, culture, refinement and excitement.  They were waiting for their scholarly brother, Andrei (Christian Conn) to take them to Moscow.  They were forbidden by the social mores of the day to pick up and go there by themselves, which of course I was ready to stand up and yell, “Get on that train and go to MOSCOW!”  This of course from my vantage point of 100 plus years of discrimination to women with so many of our restrictions.  Now of course these have changed (except our own internal ones) have been removed or highly modified.  Fortunately I did not stand up and yell that.although I was heard to mumble it and I was “shushed” a couple of times.

Vershinin (David Whalen) & 
Masha (Allison McLemore)
photo by Suellen Fitzsimmons
Three Sisters opening act at the Prozorov house sets the stage, with all the character, seen and unseen are introduced, with their yearnings, desires, weaknesses, infidelities and betrayals being set into place. It is a birthday party for the youngest, Irina, who has just turned 20 and is filled with joy and expectation of what life, love and finding the purpose of her life in “Oh my” work.  As each sister and the men who love or interact with them are introduced we see the roles they are assigned in life and are unable to break.  The older sister, Olga teacher and spinster! Masha, middle sister the one with the caustic wit, married at 18 now at 25, dreadfully bored with her husband and drawn into affair with the new commander of military Vershinin, (David Whalen)! Commander Vershinin by the way is a very unhappily married man with two little girls.  This is where my line about divorce is appropriate. And many theatre goers commented on exit, “Why didn’t he just divorce his wife?”
The brother Andrei who has such hopes but marries so badly and lives a life of lost dreams!   His wife Natasha, (Megan McDermott) is the original mean queen and made one to yell again.”Stop her she is a bully, stand up to her you people.” Again I did not.  But isn’t that the goal of the playwright, to get us to react.  I was so mad at Natasha; I wouldn’t even talk to her if I met her.  Kudos to the excellent acting of Megan McDermott!
 For the next three acts over a four year time, we see, love bloom, affairs of various sorts, boredom, frustration, acts of charity and cruelty, characters develop and blossom, hopes dash and dreams changed..All the stuff of life… yet so ably presented by the cast of PICT! And react we did, so much so that we are silently screaming:
Get on that train folks..and go to Moscow! Or at least to PICT’s presentation of "Three Sisters."  The play runs through August 26th in the Stephen Foster Memorial in Oakland. You can find full details at:

JoAnn Forrester is the Host of Empress of Biz, Reinvent in Rugged Times, a business Talkcast syndicated on PPLMag, Pittsburgh's First Internet Radio and TV Network.  You can hear JoAnn at Business friends every Thursday at 9 AM on the TalkShoe network or archived later at: 

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