Three Sisters @ Noel Coward Theatre

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Review: Three Sisters – Noel Coward **

Having made a bold start with an engrossing Into The Whirlwind, Sovremennik’s Three Sisters is a distinctly beige vision of Anton Chekhov’s dissection of bourgeoisie disappointment and frustration. Galina Volchek’s respectful and measured production begins with some lovely moments of play between siblings but soon begins to melt into a torpidity which refuses to shift off the shoulders of this soon to be heavy auditorium.

In the midst on this monotony a small sliver of salvation comes from a few wonderful performances and the pleasure of hearing Chekhov’s rich lyricism encased in his native tongue. Chulpan Khamatova’s spirited Masha flickers and burns with intelligent fervour, her velvet voice adding a resolute gravitas to her slight frame and anxious physicality. As her lover Vladislav Vetrov’s Vershinin is both master of his passions and a victim of them, his resigned air lending an impossible charm to this old idealist. Their fated love affair adds spice to an otherwise long second act.

Vyacheslav Zaitsev’s whirligig revolving stage spins our characters round on a futile access of movement, never getting them anywhere. But throughout the production this soon becomes arbitrary and it is never really clear why there is a bridge over the top of this troubled household. Volchek seems to have expended all her vision into a design full of superfluous bells and whistles, leaving her company (and audience) covering dusty old ground.


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