Rural regrets

The Three Sisters

By Anton Chekhov
Translation by Lanford Wilson
Directed by Kristina O'Neal
Boomerang Theatre Company
Theatre 22
54 W. 22nd St. (212-501-4069)
Equity showcase (closes Sept. 28)
Review by Julie Halpern

The Boomerang Theatre's final production of the summer is a new translation, by Lanford Wilson, of The Three Sisters. Although Wilson's take on the aborted trip to Moscow does not really shed any new light on Chekhov's work, the translation is powerful, with a particularly affecting second act.

The three Prozorov sisters, daughters of a once prosperous family, are now living in genteel poverty in a provincial town and lament the directions their lives have taken. Olga, the oldest, feels trapped in the drudgery of her job as a high-school teacher and fears she will remain a spinster forever. Masha is disappointed in her marriage to a kind but dull schoolmaster and drifts into an affair with Vershinin, a handsome, married battery commander. The idealistic Irina is convinced that happiness comes only through hard work, but like Olga she discovers that a dull job can be as stultifying to an active mind as the dissipation she abhors in her fellow aristocrats. Despite many suitors, she has yet to find the right man. Their brother, Andrei, who has devoted his life to academia, must come to grips with his life as a bourgeois city-council member and the humilation of his wife's affair with his boss. They all believe their lives will be transformed, if they can just return to Moscow, their childhood home.

The cast performed at a consistently high level, and director Kristina O'Neal (who also played Natasha) guided the talented actors with a gentle hand, allowing them all moments to shine. Rhonda Dodd's superb Olga was a sympathetic Earth Mother whose warmth and charm belied her loneliness and desperation. Celia Montgomery was a captivating, impassioned Irina. Jennifer Rice found a perfect balance of poignancy and decadence as the bored, unfaithful Masha.

Daniel Boyer was magnificent as the pathetic, cuckolded Andrei. Kristina O'Neal was splendid as Andrei's wife Natasha, progressing from the family outcast to their tormentor. Paul Caroul brought an engaging earnestness to Masha's long-suffering husband, Kulygin. Joseph J. Menino gave a powerful performance as the compelling, neurotic Vershinin. Victor Trevino was quite moving as Irina's well-meaning fiance, Baron Tuzenbach, and T.S. Joseph was strangely appealing as the handsome, deranged Solyony, Tuzenbach's murderer. Ed Schultz gave a beautifully focused performance as Chebuytkin, the alcoholic doctor. Lee Kheel was an adorably feisty Anfisa, the Prozorov's octagenarian nanny, and Richard Kohn was a likable and dignified Ferapont. Roc Kemmerer and John Syragakis did excellent work in the smaller roles of Fedotik and Rodez.

Kristin Costas's set effectively conveyed the shabby gentility of the Prozorov household. Wendy Range's simple but attractive lighting gave the actors a healthy glow. Lugubrious violin music contributed to the general ambience. The uncredited costumes were flattering to the actors, but were not all appropriate to the period. Some of the actors also wore contemporary footwear, which jarred with the costumes.
Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 1999 Julie Halpern