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Theatre Review: Three Sisters ***

Joy Watters reviews Lung Ha's abridged production of the classic play by Chekhov.

Writer Adrian Osmond has created a new version of Anton Chekhov’s 1901 classic work for Lung Ha Theatre Company which sensitively prunes the original without losing the characters’ longing for a different life, their wistfulness, heartbreak and moments of sheer daftness.

Lung Ha, the leading theatre company for people with a learning disability in Scotland, recently had its funding cut off, only to have it swiftly re-instated after a public outcry. Director Maria Oller and her cast carried on regardless.

Osmond’s 80-minute distillation of the original floats along on a wonderful tide of music thanks to a collaboration with Finnish musicians and composer Anna-Karin Korhonen. From original Russian folk songs to wordless laments, it perfectly encapsulates the changing moods.

Oller says there are no big or small parts in her production but rather a microcosm of society. Set in the home of the three sisters—all still in their twenties—the house is full of visitors, mainly soldiers.

Olga, the eldest, is a teacher: kind, responsible and motherly (a thoroughly recognisable character in Emma McCaffrey’s playing), keeping her unhappiness to herself. In contrast, sister Masha (Nicola Tuxworth immerses herself in the role) is unhappily married, angry and disruptive. She lets everyone know as she longs for visiting soldier Vershinin; Paul Harper plays the role with brio. Emma Clark touchingly captures the youth and hopefulness of youngest sister Irina, something of a lost soul who joins her siblings’ constant refrain that they must return to Moscow.

Oller’s production captures both the frenzied excitement of the parties at the house, moments of farce along the way and the expression of dreams never to come true.

Three Sisters by Lung Ha has ended its run.

Tags: theatre

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