Liverpool Everyman 25th January
Directed by Lindsay Posner
Reviewed by Kate Gorst
The production holds firm with Chekhov’s ideals of realism, the set in particular is ornate, detailed and life like and far removed from the usual minimalist and symbolic sets seen at the Everyman. The performance of the actors is equally rooted in realism, with moments of comedy, moments of tragedy and an engaging ability to capture the nuances of normal, mundane life. A memorable example of this being the moment at which the action of Act 2 stops for the assembled cast to watch a spinning top given to Rita as a gift.
Stand out performances come from the three female leads Rita (Samantha Robinson), Gertie (Anna Francolini) and May (Suzan Sylvester), who demonstrate a sense of sisterly unity and an optimism, steely determination and despair, respectively. Sylvester’s performance as the sarcastic and unhappily married May is genuinely entertaining and as funny as it is tragic. Philip Voss’ performance as ‘reformed’ alcoholic Nate is also worthy of note. Voss captures the weariness of the character yet also emanates warmth and affection towards the three girls who he views as family.
Ponser’s direction is perfect and the pace of the piece as a whole is superb – the hustle and bustle of family life contrasted sharply with moments of sadness and anguish which are played out slowly and with a clear attention to detail. The opening sounds of the rhythmical metronome set the scene for a play that focuses on the passing of time and the frustration of inaction. In keeping with this, and with Chekhov’s original, Samuels and Oberman do not pull the strands of the stories together neatly and we cannot expect a happy ending for the sisters who long to return to
The whole play is long at around 3¼ hours including interval. Yet the intricacy of the performances and the seamless interweaving of different stories, May’s all consuming love for Vince, Gertie’s selflessness, Arnold’s marriage and gambling problems and Rita’s search for a better life and a sense of where she belongs, make the time drift by quickly as you become absorbed in the Lasky family story and the broader story of the Jewish struggle to find a place in the world after the atrocities of the Hitler’s war against them.
Three Sisters on
Photos show: Top: Samantha Robinson (Rita) & Anna Francolini (Gertie) Bottom: Company