Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Lyric's Three Sisters solid, but unmemorable

Three Sisters - Filter, Lyric Theatre ***

The Lyric Theatre's latest production with Filter of Chekhov's Three Sisters is frustratingly average. I was looking forward to seeing Sean Holmes' work with Filter having heard so many good things about their Caucasian Chalk Circle; the Checkhov turned out to be a very straight production, with rather limp humour, a complete lack of tension, and a narrative that was not fully explored.

First a gripe. It is not trendy, groundbreaking, or edgy to set up the soundbox on the stage. It is not "warts-and-all" theatre; it is lazy and merely a distraction from the fact that no money has been spent on a set. And having stage crew wander across the stage willy-nilly just papers over unprofessionalism elsewhere. I've seen this approach taken three times in the last year and a half (also with Complicite's A Disappearing Number and Kneehigh's Don John). The "let it all hang out" approach has added nothing to any of those productions.

As for the Sisters: Poppy Miller steals the show with a brilliantly repressed Vershinin. Romola Garai simply doesn't make the most of Masha - graduating from pouty to whiny via droopy and not a great deal else. A disappointment. Claire Dunne as Irina occasionally sparkles, but there were a few too many histrionics for my liking. Apart from Miller, only Ferdy Roberts as Andrei really shone.

The text had some wonderful moments and there were times when the tension of the small town life and frustration of the characters really manifested itself; and moments with the cleverly positioned microphones wored quite nicely. But I am writing this review barely a fortnight after seeing the production and I am already struggling to remember most of the production. Not bad, solid, but hardly life changing.

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