Thursday 3rd December to Saturday 5th December and Thursday 10th December to Saturday 12th December 1981
Directed by John Scadding
"The General is dead. He's been dead a year. Now would seem to be the time with the fine Spring weather to sell up the house and go back to Moscow. But the General is dead you see and it was always the General."
Olga, Masha, and Irina are refined and cultured young women in their twenties who were raised in urban Moscow but have been living in a small, colourless provincial town for eleven years. With their father dead, their anticipated return to Moscow comes to represent their hopes for living a good life, while the ordinariness of day-to-day living tightens its hold.
'Three Sisters' was the first play that Chekhov wrote specifically for the Moscow Art Theatre, having experienced commercial success in his previous collaborations with the company, 'The Seagull' and 'Uncle Vanya'. It was written in 1900, first produced in 1901, and is about the decay of the privileged class in Russia and the search for meaning in the modern world. It describes the lives and aspirations of the Prozorov family, the three sisters (Olga, Masha, and Irina) and their brother Andrei.
They are a family dissatisfied and frustrated with their present existence. The sisters are refined and cultured young women who grew up in urban Moscow; however for the past eleven years they have been living in a small provincial town. Chekhov's initial inspiration was the general life-story of the three Bronte sisters, i.e., their refinement in the midst of provincial isolation and their disappointment in the expectations they had of their brother Branwell.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Lt Col Vershinin||Chris Hall|
|Capt Solyony||David Urquhart|
|Dr Chebutykin||Ray Osborne|
|Lt Baron Tuzenbakh||David Roberts|
|Second Lt Fedotik||Steve Jupp|
|Second Lt Rode||Brian Smith|
|Stage Manager||Sylvia Brierly|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Karen Cartwright|
|Lighting||Jon Philpott |
|Poster Design||David Penrose|
|Programme Design||Nicola Scadding|
|Set Construction||Jim Charlton|
Following on from the Bench's last production - 'Sister George' - we have yet another set of infuriating women. This time they are a bit more up market than those from the BBC but nevertheless they are just as self-centred and downright annoying and in need of a whack. They are stuck. They must change. Good plays seems to deal with this - the struggle to change or the struggle to resist change. The play this evening is full of men and women changing or not changing. The struggle is our play. We hope you enjoy it.
Never having been a fan of Anton Chekhov, I approached the Bench Theatre's production of 'The Three Sisters' with limited enthusiasm. But last night's production at Havant Arts Centre kept the audience engrossed throughout. 'The Three Sisters' concerns the search for happiness in a Russian country town at the end of the last century. It is the story of a struggle. Will the three sisters and the characters who surround them ever find the happiness they are seeking? They search for it in love, in work, in every precious second of the day. But as soon as they believe it, they become disillusioned. Love, which flings itself at them, teases and torments, for it is always just out of reach. Hard work fails to satisfy them.
The audience soon realises, even if these infuriating, Russian characters do not, that they will never find the pleasure they seek in the world around them until they have found it in themselves. As the director (John Scadding) said: "The characters must change. the play is full of men and women changing or not changing. The struggle is our play". It would of course be spoil-sporting of me to say whether they win the fight. Will Lieutenant Colonel Veshinin realize that happiness is not reserved for a future generation? Will Kulgin the schoolmaster stop grovelling to his wife - and everyone else? Will the three sisters and their brother ever reach Moscow which represents their dream?
Ironically it is the least likely character of all who announces: 'I sometimes think I am the happiest woman in the world. The calibre of the acting can be describes as excellent in some cases. This applies to all three sisters (Jacquie Penrose, Nicola Scadding and Jo German) and to Dr Chebutykin (Ray Osborne), who gave an incredible performances as a drunk, bitterly depressed doctor during the third act. One criticism I would make was the way many appeared to stand or sit around just waiting for their cue in the earlier part of the play. A little more reaction would have added polish to a fine evening's entertainment.
The News, 4th December 1981