“To Moscow, to Moscow…” The renowned lament in Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters still manages to conjure up some of the most fundamental issues that plague our quotidian lives today. Ross McGregor’s new version of this great classic evokes the Chekhovian existential essence that troubles the Prozorov sisters: Irina, Masha, and Olga respectively. But, it’s not all too dreary, however, as the Arrow & Traps’ interpretation generates a wonderful snapshot of life in provincial Russia in a time gone by.
The performers act graciously and at times manage to genuinely capture elements of the Russian mentality and soul. This is most apparent when they break out into the traditional Russian folk song Kalinka. Led by Tuzenbach (Conor Moss), who is deeply in love with Irina the youngest of the three sisters, the song engrosses the audience and generates an intimate excitement. Undoubtedly, this is the highlight of the play.
This interpretation of Three Sisters generally holds true to the original script of the play but mixes both the new and the old. There includes a whole array of music; modern and contemporary songs, and older tunes, as exemplified above. The play includes a few minor alterations to the script and includes a present-day vernacular which isn’t really in keeping with Chekhov’s unique style. Although the play’s set emulates the Russia of old, these minor differences make the piece more accessible to a modern audience and help the Western viewer better grasp the Russian mindset and the actual point of the play.
The beauty of Chekhov’s Three Sisters is the stark portrayal of human beings, their shortcomings, and the overhanging mood which flows incessantly throughout life. Ultimately in Chekhov’s chef-d’oeuvre, life will go by and present dilemmas; it will mostly be full of dull moments and a few joyful events. On the whole, this feeling has been well captured by Arrows & Traps. So, if you’re mad about Chekhov, then this is a play not to be missed. If you’re new to him and fancy the experience of a great Chekhovian classic whilst glimpsing an insight into an age no longer, then the Arrows & Traps production offers a pleasant rendition of a timeless classic. It encapsulates that sense of longing that ties the three sisters and other characters to their daily existential problems in a charming manner; always leading back to that inescapable quandary. “To Moscow, to Moscow.”
This article originally appeared in Russian Art and Culture on April 10, 2018, and has been republished with permission.