Three Sisters | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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THREE SISTERS, Mom & Dad Productions at the Viaduct Theater. One company after another keeps trying to send Chekhov's siblings to Moscow. But a witch's brew of psychological paralysis, moral inertia, and bad luck keeps the Prozorov women in perpetual exile 400 miles east of the Promised City. Stifled by denial, despair, and the curse of living in the past or future but never the moment, they still deserve to be treated with dignity. No more compassionate--or cautionary--play was ever penned.

Happily, Joe Feliciano's strong, steady staging embraces the women's sheer ordinariness and makes us eavesdroppers on their truth telling. Like Natasha as the feckless Andrei describes her, this revival is "honest and honorable"--everything that the venal Natasha (played by Erin E. Kneip with very American arrogance) is not. Plus the props are perfect.

Not every performer can be caught in the act of not acting. Davy Falkyn as the self-destructive army doctor and Jeremy Trager as the psychotic captain verge on melodrama, and the fourth act's tortured farewells suddenly make us aware that this staging is nearly three hours long. But even these excesses help set up the orphans' apotheosis of sisterly solidarity. Jamie L. Mayhew brings authority and unforced heartbreak to the eldest, Olga; Jill Sheridan drives home bored Masha's silent suffering; and Michelle Zee shows how quickly Irina loses happiness, youth, and love.

--Lawrence Bommer

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