Friday, April 11, 2008

There were never such devoted Sisters

Tonight I saw a very solid production of Three Sisters by Chekov put on by Extant Arts Company. My friend Mandy Sayle had the juicy role of Natasha, who over the course of the play really turns into quite a powerful, petty, childish mega-bitch. It was a lot of fun to watch her journey. Overall, I thought it was a good production and the actors made the plot and relationships understandable and accessible. It was a large, youthful cast and pretty much all of the main actors gave strong performances. If I had any minor quibbles with the production, I would say that I would have appreciated a costume change at the beginning of Act II to reflect the passage of time, and I also generally thought the males in the cast were a little too freshly-scrubbed. Chekhov likes his men to be a little past their prime and sporting some facial hair and gut. With the cast playing characters who were older than the actors themselves, stronger costume and make-up choices could have helped achieve this effect. It actually reminded me of a time in college when I was acting in a Directing II Scene that was coincidentally directed by Ms. Sayle. We were doing Uncle Vanya, I believe. After we did the scene, I remember the professor, Tim Raphael said, "Owen, I'm sorry, I just don't believe you're forty." Which made me immediately think in my head, "Yes, of course not. Why would you? I'm 19." But I guess I was supposed to supply that illusion via the acting and really gotten the age into my physicality. That was missing a bit tonight as well, but overall i thought it was a well put together and entertaining show. Congrats!

It was also fun seeing this show, because I've never seen Three Sisters before, yet it is tied up in another college anecdote. At some point in either the spring of my junior year or fall of my senior year, my Theater Prof Mentor, (the certifiably lovable and lovably certifiable) Bill Francisco got it in his head that he wanted to direct a production of Three Sisters starring classmates Sarah Hirshan, Sarah Kozinn and me as the title characters. This was never really gonna happen but it was fun seeing his face light up when he talked about it. Having never read the play I didn't know which "Sister" he saw me as in his mind. Having seen the show tonight, I think I'd have to be Olga, the one who becomes the Headmistress. Kozinn would be a natural fit for Irina and Hirshan for Masha. I appreciate having some context in my head for this bizarre fantasy production 8 years later. I'm sure the three of us could've made it to Moscow. :)

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