Friday October 20th 2017

“Three Sisters”

Part of what makes Steppenwolf the marvelous theater company it is, is the ensemble members who take on many roles- actors, directors and even adaptations of classics, such as Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters”, now playing on their stage ( downstairs). Tracy Letts and Anna D. Shapiro who brought “August:Osage County” to the forefront of the theater community together, showing the world that Chicago is “second to none when it comes to theater” are the writer/adapter ( Letts) and director (Shapiro) of this glorious look at  the classic tale of searching for a better life as the Prozorov family in Russia, circa 1900. The town is one that is fairly large but away from the big city and the family desires to go back to Moscow, where they have their roots. Letts, in doing his adaptation, noted that his stress is on the characters and their relationships with each other.The family, like many is slightly dysfunctional, living in a community that  is caught in a state of paralysis, not physical, but mental. We see the same things that we see in real life today, marriages that are unhappy,  love that can never be, in-laws that we are forced to deal with, positions in life that make us sad and of course, attaining the social status that each feels is justly theirs. These are all problems that we observe ( or have been faced with ourselves) and very human- all of us are seeking to be in another spot- to make the lives of our children better than the ones we endured.

While Shapiro has put together a marvelous cast of players to tell this version of the story, I must say it is not for everyone. It is a “talky” show a sit is about people and their situations, and being so, the 2 1/2 hour production is focused on the dialogue and the characters, with little action, which for some audiences is boring, so I suggest that if you are not into “talky” plays or Chekhov’s intensity of characters, this may not be for you. However, if you do like Chekhov, you will love what Letts has done with this and with the exception of a few spots the staging is flawless.

Todd Rosenthal’s set design is very open and we experience scenes in the main house, the second floor of the house and the outside yard. Years go by and changes take place with the military leaving their town and the relationships of the family ( extended as well) changing with the seasons. Donald Holder’s lighting effects are dramatic,Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen’s sound along with David Singer’s original music add to the touches along with some wonderful costuming by Jess Goldstein. These items are all about what makes a production complete, but it wouldn’t work at all without the solid direction and the words that have been written, and of course the actors, who along with the director interpret each character bringing them to life. The sisters are played by a solid trio- Olga ( Ora Jones, who as always, develops a strong character), Irina ( deftly handled by Caroline Neff) and Masha ( Carrie Coon brings every emotion to this character who is married, but unhappy with her situation). Their brother Andrey is handled by  Dan Waller and his wife , the evil “in-law” is played to perfection by Alana Arenas. Masha’s husband, the nerdy Fyodor , who loves his wife and his life ( at least so he says) even though his students and family laugh at him is handled by the always reliable  Yasen Peyankov.

If this wasn’t a strong enough cast, add to the mix,Usman Ally,E. Diego Colon, Derek Gaspar, the incredible Scott Jaeck, John Judd,Mary Ann Thebus and Maury Cooper, who shows that even a small role can be one that is remembered by an audience.These players work well with each other, keeping the flow of the story moving and allowing the audience to feel the emotion that “Three Sisters” is meant to convey. The show will bring back memories for each audience member, each in a different way about the ambitions, goals and mistakes in your early years and the things that you have longed for that may never come, or did they pass you by?

“Three Sisters” will continue at Steppenwolf Theatre through August 26th with performances as follows:

Tuesday-Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. ( there will be a Sunday evening performance on August 5th). Matinees are on Saturdays at 3 p.m. and on Sundays at 3 p.m.

Tickets range from  $20-$75 and are available at the box office located at 1650 N. Halsted, by phone at 312-335-1650 or online at www.steppenwolf.org

There are special studnet tickets, RUSH tickts which you can find out more about at the website.

Post discussions take place after each performance and these are at no additional charge- an enlightening experience.

Parking is available in the lot down the street and some street ( metered ) is also available.

To see more about this show, visit www.theatreinchicago.com and at review round-up hit “Three Sisters”

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