Three Sisters at Source Theatre

I'll be honest with you. If a theatre in DC was doing Chekhov, I'd probably go see it because that's what you do. When you're in theatre, you go see Chekhov. End of story. You don't have to like it, but we're pretentious people - don't be offended, you know it's true - and Chekhov and Shakespeare are about as pretentious as it gets. However, I did get really excited when I saw that one of my favorite companies in the area was getting ready to open Three Sisters. I'll watch anything this group does, because they're creative and talented and super nice. They're about as unpretentious as you can possibly get.

The theatre itself is a blackbox and it's really not that big. For this production, there are four sections surrounding the stage. Yep, Chekhov in the round. The set is gorgeous, so kudos to A.J. Guban, the scenic and lighting designer. I wasn't a huge fan of the lighting, because it kept dimming and brightening at weird moments and it totally distracted me from what was going on in front of me. Otherwise, everything was very complementary of the actors and the script.

The play takes place between 1901 and 1907. It centers around the lives of three sisters - Irina (Amy Quiggins), Masha (Catherine Deadman) and Olga (Nanna Ingvarsson) and their brother, Andrei (the terribly talented and seriously sexy Joe Brack). When we first meet the family, they are planning on moving back to Moscow and Andrei is working on becoming a professor. When Andrei proposes to Natasha Ivanovna (Katy Carkuff), a girl from down the street, it seems that everything is going to work out well. The siblings are surrounded by friends and family, especially in the first act, as it takes place on Irina's saint's day. Ivan Romanych Chebutykin (Brian Hemmingsen), a doctor and family friend, is there, along with Masha's husband Fyodor Illich Kulygin (Ashley Ivey). Then Aleksandr Ignatych Vershinin (Michael John Casey) shows up, brought by family friend Nikolai Lvovich Tuzenbach (Billy Finn). Masha immediately latches on to Vershinin, and it's obvious that Nikolai is in love with Irina. The last member of the group is Vasily Vasilych Solyony (Mark Krawczyk), a captain in the army (Nikolai and Vershinin are also in the army). The act ends with the marriage of Andrei and Natasha and the birth of their first child.

During the 2 hours, the audience can see the demise of the dreams the family had in the first act. Natasha is a domineering wife plus she begins an affair right under her husband's nose. Masha falls more and more in love with Vershinin, even though she's married to Kulygin and Vershinin has a wife of his own. Solyony falls in love with Irina and tells her that if she marries anyone but him, he'll kill them. Then a whole block of the town catches on fire, costing lives and damage to property. Finally the army leaves, taking Vershinin away from Masha for good. In the end, only Irina is able to leave the town to teach at a school.

The sadness and hardship the sisters face in the course of the play is offset by the humor they are able to see and the love of their friends and family. It's a complex story, and the marvelous ensemble, directed by Allison Arkell Stockman, handles it with grace and a wealth of talent. The main cast is lucky to have such a brilliant support in smaller, but no less important, characters including army lieutenants Aleksei Petrovich Fedotik and Vladimir Karlych Rodez (Scott Zeigler and Carl Brandt Long, respectively), Ferapont the courier (Lewis Freeman) and Anfisa the nanny (Annie Houston). This was the fifth Constellation production I've seen, and I'm more impressed with them every time I go in. If you can get tickets, definitely go see this show.

Three Sisters
by Anton Chekhov, translated by Lanford Wilson
directed by Allison Arkell Stockman
Running now through February 21


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