In an outstanding theatre department performance, director Bruce Miller and his cast breathe life into the pages of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, doing justice to both the masterpiece and the genius behind it.
Set in provincial nineteenth century Russia, Three Sisters explores Chekhov’s recurring themes of the passage of time and the hope and grief that come with loss, endurance, love and life itself through the trials and triumphs of three strong women: Olga, Masha and Irina Sergeevna.
Throughout the five-year time span of their story, the sisters and the military men surrounding them live their lives in direct opposition to their innermost feelings, which are seldom freely expressed, and their real desires, which go unfulfilled.
Portraying the intent behind Chekhov’s play was a formidable task for Miller because its most meaningful aspects are disguised in philosophical dialogue and what goes unsaid as opposed to a climactic action, event or emotion. Because the play is not confined to the cliche plot outline of the rising action, climax and falling action, more emphasis was placed on its more subtle aspects.
The actors, whose command of their roles was superlative, accomplish this goal with sophistication and grace. Caitlyn Loesch, Kat Lower and Jessica Delbridge individually capture the essence of their respective characters Olga, Irina and Masha; while, at the same time, collectively share a chemistry that makes their sisterhood authentic.
Douglas Ghizzoni naturally transitions his character through the years from the once soft-spoken only brother Andrei to father, husband and victim of an unhappy marriage. Marcos Sanchez’s portrayal of Fyodor Ilich Kulygin is moving as his pathetic attempts to accept his failed marriage evoke both pity and admiration. Brad Bauner, who plays the father figure to the sisters, conveys beautifully the frustration of the misunderstood, aging doctor.
Next to the acting, award winning set designer Kenneth Kurtz served an equally important task and executed it with both simplicity and creativity. Employing the resources of scenery and the layout of the Ring Theatre, the entire theatre was used as a stage, with actors entering and exiting from different places throughout, taking the action into the audience.
With an audience of mainly Ring Theatre patrons and supporters, student attendance was heavily lacking. Though performed for a high-brow, older crowd, Three Sisters has an appeal to all ages. Realizing the need to incorporate the student body, the Friends of the Theatre have established a student membership for $35 for the season.
Director Bruce Miller wrote, “For a director, finding the action hidden on the page, and making it come alive on stage is both the challenge and the joy.”
This joy was passed on through his work to the audience as Chekhov’s challenge was met and mastered.