Review -Three Sisters – Act Provocatuer international, at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre
3rd April 2008,
Before I explain to you anything about the play itself I really have to paint you a picture of the director Dumle Kogbara. This incredibly energetic and intelligent man seems to be running the whole show! And I mean that literally – from box office to stage manager to god knows what else. This guy is fantastically eccentric and very passionate about all aspects of his production of Three Sisters.
Being so deeply and vividly in touch and moved by the play himself, I was really excited to see how this energy had connection had translated itself onto the stage.
I was a little disappointed with the first half of this production. I felt that for the most part, the energy was lacking, and with the exception of a few of the actors I failed to really connect with them. This being said, there were some really beautiful moments, both in terms of the characters and the staging and direction, with lots of real picturesque snapshots woven in to the seamless flow of conversation.
In particular I loved the use of the real windows in the room, it really helped me as an audience member connect with Irina’s desperate longing to go back to her beloved Moscow, and also the entrapment of Masha and Olga.
Themes of exile, entrapment and homecoming were themes that Dumle really felt were the relate-able and timeless core of this play. I think he and his actors achieved this connection really well and it was certainly those emotions, I left the Theatre with intact.
The play really picked up in the third and forth act, and there were some really fantastic scenes and despite a mixed bag of acting, some really great performances shone through.
Sonna Cadman played a lovely and high spirited Irina and she skillfully showed the ‘coming of age/realisation of reality’ well, though I felt that occasionally her physicalisation was over balletic, and this distracted me from her very watchable and likable performance.
Natasha – Kim Seybold was great fun to watch and gave a real life and energy to the play, and Harry Attwell was a humourous and sensitive Kulygin.
But Special mention should go to Roxaneh Renton for her spotless performance of Olga, and to Julian Bird – Chebutykin, who really was the sole actor who gave the sense of truth and connection that Checkov wrote for, His scene in Act Three was breathtaking and for me his performance in all, the highlight of the play.
Overall the Three Sisters is really worth watching. It has some beautiful moments and a lot of heart. And really, its worth going just to experience the pub downstairs – Almost more drama going on in there than upstairs! – Trust Me
Camden New Journal April 2008
by Josh Loeb
ACT Provocateur are nothing if not ambitious.
An honest take on the challenge of Checkov
Under artistic directors Victor Sobchak and resident director Dumle Kogbara the company has staged a series of difficult plays with commendable casts, and thankfully this production is no exception.
The play, part of the Lion and the Unicorn’s Chekhov season, is about the lives of aristocratic sisters who are originally from Moscow but now live in a provincial backwater. From the outset it lays bare the regrets and yearnings of these women via naturalistc action and a simple script, evoking the decline of the Russian nobility in the late 19th century.
In Act I this sometimes melancholic mood is sweetened by parodies of recognisable character from Chekov’s time. We meet middle sister Masha’s nerdy husband Kulygin, foul-smelling brainy upstart Solyony, and world weary doctor Chebutykin. In later acts the play takes a darker turn. The girls’ brother sells their house to repay his debts, forcing them to confront the harsh reality that they will marry not for love but out of duty, and that they will never return to their longed-for Moscow.
The modern costumes are wonderful and help convey a sense of the character, particularly the vain, whorish Natasha.
As the director says, this play has “sorrows, joys and frustrations small and large”. While some will no doubt find this heavy going, Three Sisters’ effortless quality makes it easy to enjoy and, far from being a turn-off, the characters’ increasing self-pity makes them all the more believable.
Refreshingly, this is not a play that seeks to trick the audience but one which strives to be as honest as possible. In short, commendable and well worth watching.