JOYCE MCMILLAN on THREE SISTERS at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 2.7.13.
4 stars ****
CHEKHOV’S GREATEST PLAYS are famous for their naturalism, their minute attention to the absolutely credible detail of the characters’ emotional and practical lives. Beneath that surface, though, the plays are so strongly themed, so beautifully made, and so full of poetry, that they often respond well to being broken up, deconstructed, surveyed from different angles; and that’s the opportunity seized by Viv Adam, in her fine 55-minute version of Three Sisters for the Oran Mor Classic Cuts season.
So, in a brilliant production by Maggie Kinloch, this Three Sisters offers not the usual chronological tale, but three 20-minute cameos, each telling one sister’s story – first the schoolteacher Olga, then the unhappily married Masha, and finally the youngest, Irina. The effect is astonishing, focussing with a jewel-like clarity on each quiet personal tragedy, as the three women – plus a superb Barrie Hunter, as all the men – weave in and out of each other’s stories, playing all the key characters of the play.
Joyce Falconer, Julie Duncanson and a glowingly pregnant Claire Knight are magnificent as the sisters, often seeming to encompass all the ages of woman, from girlhood to old age, in a single short scene. And the production is driven from start to finish by simple sequences of music for violin and drum, played by the cast; and, at the end of each scene, by the sound and flickering lights of a great steam train thundering through the night towards Moscow, while the three sisters watch it pass by.