Delightful details

Three Sisters

By Anton Chekhov
Directed by John Basil
Equity Showcase (closes Apr. 4)
American Globe Theatre
145 W. 46th St. (212/869-9809)
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh

American Globe Theatre's production of Three Sisters is one of the best productions running right now. Everything about it is perfection; this Chekhov classic is in impeccable hands with this cast, crew and creative team.

Three Sisters centers on (as you might have guessed) three sisters who are part of the wealthy class. After their parents died, they were left the house in which they have always lived, as well as pensions. The eldest sister, Olga (Alyson Reim) is in charge; she is unmarried and perhaps the most stable of the three. The middle sister, Masha (Elizabeth Keefe), is extremely depressed at the play's start. She is stuck in a loveless marriage with Kulygin (Rainard Rachele), a carefree, ambitious professor. She later has an affair with Vershinin (Richard Fay), a philosophizing soldier also in a suffering marriage (his wife attempts suicide frequently). The final sister, Irina (Nicole Curran) has just turned 20. She gets courted by many soldiers including the reliable Tuzenbach (Christopher Swan), the crazy, outspoken Solyony (Dennis Turney), and to a lesser extent Fedotik (Jason Vail) and Rode (Ryan Scott). They share the house with their brother, Andrei (Robert Ieradi), who is taken with and soon marries the deceivingly timid Natasha (Kelli Holsopple). Finally, the elderly doctor, Chebutykin (Stanley Harrison), and their servants, Anfisa (Julia McLaughlin) and Ferapont (Frank Copeland), round out the family.

It would take too much space to go into even a terse plot synopsis. This is a Chekhov masterpiece. It is about life's lack of tangible meaning and palpable happiness and incessant suffering and compromises and love and being sick and tired of life, yet still living vehemently. The show has both hilarious and maudlin moments. It affects the audience without effort or melodrama. And this production captured every single nuance of this beautiful play.

First off, the cast was so focused. There was a synergy created. Every single member of the cast stayed in character throughout the entire piece -- there were incredible reactions and facial expressions, which never felt forced. This ensemble was top-notch; there was not a single weak link. Every one of these actors deserved attention!

There were standouts in an already outrageously outstanding cast. Richard Fay, as Vershinin, was outlandish and charming at the same time. When he started philosophizing, one could not help but smile. Kelli Holsopple took Natasha's timidity and then her bossiness to new heights. She managed to be both pushy yet vulnerable. Finally, Nicole Curran was beautiful and eloquent as Irina. Her innocent perspicacity permeated the stage with every twinkle of each eye.

Basil's direction was impeccable: the staging, the characterization, the energy, the pacing -- everything. The costumes, by Cheryl McCarron, were also superb -- the depressed sister in black, the innocent one in white, the soldiers in green, etc. Gerald C. Browning's set provided much flexibility and easy adaptability. Mark Hankla's lighting design provided light on the main action, as well as creating shadowy areas for the actors to hide in while stealing unorthodox kisses. Finally, Scott O'Brien's sound design and incidental music fit the play aptly. The synthesized music had a crisp clarity and a Russian flair and drive, which added adequately to an affable ambiance.

This Three Sisters is a must-see, especially for those who have never seen this phenomenal, philosophical play live. If every night of theatre could be as funny and moving and finely crafted as this production was, life would truly have meaning.

  Box Score:

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

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Copyright 2004 Seth Bisen-Hersh