Set play: The Three Sisters

13th July 2001 at 01:00

The Three Sisters
By Anton Chekhov
Chichester Festival Theatre

First performed in 1901, Chekhov's third play is both a study of boredom in a provincial backwater and a prescient vision of the possibility of progress at the dawn of a new century.

It shows the three Prozorov sisters' frustration with the isolation of small-town life. Olga is unmarried and dislikes her job as a teacher, Masha has married the wrong man and hates being a teacher's wife, and Irina is fed up with working in a post office.

As they dream of returning to Moscow, where they grew up, a dashing army officer, Vershinin, arrives and upsets their lives. His utopian dream of the "astonishing, beautiful life" that will one day arrive seems to predict the Russian Revolution.

Director Loveday Ingram says: "It's one of the best plays written in the 20th century. It's about being human: family love, loyalty and betrayal. And it's a play that works best when people in the audience think it's about themselves."

She is using Irish playwright Brian Friel's translation: "He's written incredibly conversational, light and witty dialogue that retains the poetry of the original."

She plans to set the play in a world "which may possibly be Irish", but which also has shades of the original Russian setting, "just one step away from its literal time and place".

August 22 to September 29. Box office: 01243 781 312

  • Picture: director Loveday Ingram
    • A longer version of this review appears in this week's Friday magazine

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