Wednesday, August 03, 2011

"Three Sisters" by Anton Chekhov

"Three Sisters"
by Anton Chekhov
Multi-cast performance featuring: Jennifer Westfeldt, Sarah Zimmerman, Tessa Thompson and Jon Hamm.
Produced by L.A. Theatre Works (2011)
Approx 2 hours

Every so often you have to go back and visit the classics, okay you don't HAVE to but it is really nice to see what you may have missed either the first time around or for the first time. This time around I visited a classic thanks to the wonderful production of L.A. Theatre Works. L.A. Theatre works has a full catalog of plays which have been artfully reproduced into audiobook form. This is the third play from LATW I've heard and I'm always amazed at how well they are able to translate a visual medium into an audio performance. Not only do you hear every detail but throughout the performance it feels as if you are right in the middle of the audience during the performance.

As with all the other productions I've heard from LATW the cast is excellent, performing their roles and able to translate emotions straight through the audio performance. For those of you interested and wanting some "star factor" to go with your theatre, this performance of "Three Sisters" features John Hamm as Lt. Colonel Vershinin. You may recognize Hamm from the TV series "Mad Men." Now, don't get me wrong, in the ensemble cast everyone shines, but just for a trivia aspect or able to say you know that voice, it's kinda neat.

"Three Sisters" was first performed in 1901 and at first made myself ready for a period piece, but I was surprised by the timelessness. Yes it is a period piece but the theme of the play carries on through the ages. The main theme of the play to me was trying to discover the meaning of life. At times it's a matter of wanting to be happy but other times not knowing what it's about. This was made evident to me in the final lines of Olga (one of the Sisters) and the old Doctor Chebutykin;

CHEBUTYKIN It doesn't matter, it doesn't matter.
OLGA. If we only knew, if we only knew!

Overall the play is about the decay of the privileged class in Russia and the search for meaning in the modern world and takes place in four acts. Each act progressing through time for the characters. At this point I would like to say for this production It would have been nice to know how much time had elapsed at the beginning of each act. LATW produced the play with music separating the acts, but I personally would have liked to know in advance how much time has elapsed. As each act progresses it becomes fairly obvious but it did seem a bit confusing at first.

Another nice production from the folks at L.A. Theatre works, I can't wait to see what they serve up next, but in the meantime, I'll be visiting their back catalogue.

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