The Three Sisters
When George W. Bush warned America after 9-11 that things would never be the same, he was right, although not in the way that he thinks. Of course, such misperceptions of history are nothing new, and as the Denver Center Theatre Company's current production of Anton Chekhov's The Three Sisters illuminates, there are ready parallels between our present circumstances and other historical periods.
Director Donavan Marley is to be commended for taking Chekhov's pre-Russian Revolution setting and moving it to the American South during the period leading up to and through the Civil War. In both settings, a decadent bourgeoisie, lost in its delusions of self-importance and permanence, is caught unprepared for the coming upheaval. This relevancy enervates every scene, as we watch with growing unease the series of shortsighted choices that diminish our protagonists' future.
Marley's casting is finely tuned as well. Annette Helde, Jacqueline Antaramian, and Jessica Dickey, as the title characters, paint equally deft portraits of three highly educated, sensitive women living in Petersburg, Virginia, a Confederate backwater light-years away from the cultural Mecca of Charleston. Jamie Horton, as their talented and once-promising brother, subtly reveals the ravages of a bad marriage and a gambling addiction.
|(L to R) Jessica Dickey as|
Katharine Diane Anderson,
(face hidden) as Marsha Anne
Anderson and Annette Helde
as Alma Marie Anderson.
Photo by Terry Shapiro
The family is surrounded by a host of in-laws, would-be suitors, and slaves whose fortunes are all intricately bound together. Bill Christ, as the lovesick major, Corliss Preston, as the nouveau-riche sister-in-law, and Mark Rubald as "the Baron," particularly stand out.
|The Anderson family and friends |
James Warnick's adaptation is straightforward and contributes to immeasurably to the accessibility of the script. To his eternal credit, Warnick also mines Chekhov's sense of humor, which so many translations fail to discover. The rest of the craft work—set, costume, lighting, and sound design—are impeccable as well.
Like Chekhov's extended family being torn apart by war, America stands at the brink of a unknown future. The Denver Center Theatre Company's thoughtful production of The Three Sisters speaks to this time. It runs through April 26th. 303-893-4100.