Chekov's drama directed by Dale McFadden
October 13, 14, 17-20, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m. and October 21 @ 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The IU Theatre invites us to spend an evening in old Russia with the Prozorov family in Chekhov’s The Three Sisters directed by Dale McFadden. The family came from the mistily remembered brilliance of Moscow to their drab small rural town eleven years ago as they followed the command career of their father, the general. He died a year ago leaving his daughters and son a bit in limbo, but with more or less desires to return to the big City. The oldest is Olga Meaghan Deiter. She’s been a teacher for the past four years. The work tires her. The possibility of being promoted to head mistress frightens her. Abby Lee plays Masha, the middle sister. As an eighteen year old graduate, she married Kulygin, Zack Rocklin-Waltch. At eighteen he impressed her, but she’s past that and bitter. Tess Cunninham is the youngest of the three and the sunniest. As the play opens she’s delighted with just about everything on her name day and the most earnest about a return to Moscow. Although we don’t hear him, the youngest of the family, brother Andrei, Devin May is avoiding the family and his studies playing the violin. When I was growing up there were four children in my family and we had eight cousins next door. Both houses were open, no one knocked. The Prozorov’s home reminds me of those days. There are a couple of servants, but pretty much people come and go without much ceremony. Doctor Chebutykin, Justino Brokaw with Baron Tuzenbach, Reid Henry and Captain Solyony, Nicholas Munson have been talking in the next room and simply wander in. There’s a visit from Vershinin, Nicholas Jenkins, the new army commander. A cake arrives for Irina’s name day celebration. Things seem placid enough, but there are hints of tension. The doctor and the soldiers rehearse long held stances and arguments. The bitter Masha starts to leave, refuses to go with her husband to a school staff picnic then relents and is apparently attracted to Vershinin. There’s one more key outsider for Chekhov’s story Andrei’s girlfriend, later wife Natasha, Julia Klinestiver. At first she’s intimidated by the unity and the education of the sisters and even later as a group they frighten her. However, with energy, ruthless purpose and two children she gradually takes over the house, rising in power. Meanwhile dreams of Moscow are in abeyance for the Prozorov’s. Natasha’s husband, the promising younger brother Andrei has given up thoughts of an academic career. He’s on a minor county board. He’s being ignored by his wife and he’s gambling heavily. Olga has relented and with some pride taken the position of head mistress. Masha is having an affair with the army commander. Irina pursued the dream of spiritual growth through work, at first failed and now may succeed as a teacher. In the final scenes the army and its commander are leaving town and leaving Masha in tears, in the arms of her forgiving husband. Baron Tuzenbach has resigned from the army and is preparing to wed Irina and join her in work. Change foreseen and change unexpected is on the horizon for a dramatically chilling finale. Of the cast Meaghan Deiter as the resolute Olga, Abby Lee as the angrily disappointed Masha and Tess Cunninham as the sunnily silly Irina shown. Zack Rocklin-Waltch was somehow always welcome as Masha’s nebbish husband. Julia Klinestiver was waspish as Andrei’s usurping wife. Nicholas Jenkins cut a nice figure as the commander Vershinin. Justino Brokaw frequently commanded scenes as the doctor. The IU Theatre production of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters plays through October 21 with evening performances at 7:30 and a two o’clock matinée on Saturday You can find this review and other reviews and interviews at WFIU dot ORG/arts At the theatre for you I’m George Walker.