Former classmate, founder of Theatre Skam and occasional reader of this blog, Amiel Gladstone, has adapted and directed Chekov’s classic “Three Sisters” in a new production entitled “My Three Sisters”, running this week at the Metro Studio.
I saw the show last night and it had the pacey energy and unpredictability that I’ve come to associate with Skam productions. Ami has (mercifully) reduced the typical three-hour Chekov to a mere 85 or 90 minutes. In doing so, I think he’s shaved a lot of scenes down to their essence. The result is more energetic and dreamlike production than I’d usually associate with Chekov’s work. The play has always had an ephemeral quality for me, and Ami’s direction makes it all the more surreal. A cake (yep, it’s a lie) hangs suspended over the corner of the stage. One of the leads plays the ukelele. The three sisters-looking like lost brides–glide across the stage in blousey, satiny white dresses.
You can’t go wrong adding a few songs to a play, and Ami’s got the cast singing blue-grassy tunes by the likes of Neko Case and Veda Hille (who seems to be a fairly regular blogger). Combine this with the white dresses, surreal undertones and warm hues in the lighting and set, and the whole production reminded me a bit of Oh Brother, Where Are Thou?
The cast is terrific–they’re a wonderful, talented ensemble. But here’s the best part: the three sisters of the play’s title? They’re actually played by three sisters. The Stubel sisters are all performers (here’s a profile from the Georgia Straight on the youngest), and it’s a rare pleasure to watch their natural sisterly chemistry on-stage. One of the sisters, Camille, is actually eight months pregnant. So that adds an extra frisson of danger to the entire affair.
It’s rare that I’d recommend Chekov, but there’s too much to like about Skam’s production.