This Chekhov-inspired comedy drama is on a barge is dotty, light-hearted fun
Metra Theatre’s engagingly dotty new production ‘3 Sisters’ has a fairly buoyant USP, insofar as it’s set aboard a functional barge, which gently pootles about the Union Canal for the play’s hour duration. Our hostesses for the voyage are Olya, Masha and Irina bickering versions of the Sergeyevna Prozorova siblings from Chekhov’s ‘Three Sisters’, headed to Moscow on the escape from provincial stultification that Chekhov never allowed them to make.
Francesca Hyde, Josephine Rogers and Jessica Stanley are posh, cheerful English girls, or at least they play Chekhov’s trio as such – bickering away merrily without the faintest suggestion they’re of Russian background, beyond reference to the events of ‘Three Sisters’. There’s much to amuse in their tongue-in-cheek banter and aristocratic scattiness, while the space is used superbly, intimate and interactive and allowing for quite possibly the cheapest puppet show the Fringe has ever seen.
There’s constant dwelling on the events of ‘Three Sisters’, the ladies frequently breaking into re-enactment of scenes from the play (often entertainingly clouded by personal bias – see their general hatred for Natasha). As the voyage goes on, darker reminiscence slips in, along with the realisation that maybe this ship isn’t going to make it to Moscow after all. If there’s a deeper point, it’s maybe sadness that the likeable Olya, Masha and Irina of the first act of Chekhov’s play can never be kept in carefree isolation. If so, it doesn’t quite work: the fraught climax doesn't come across as particularly harrowing. Nonetheless, for a lighthearted hour of inventive theatre that pays respectful homage to a Russian masterpiece, you’ll have to trawl a LOT of waterways to find better.
'3 Sisters' is playing on the Re-Union Canal Boats Ltd., Edinburgh Quay, Edinburgh
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