Three Sisters | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Three Sisters 

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Three Sisters, GroundUp Theatre and Clock Productions, at National Pastime Theater. The feminine mystique hangs heavy over the women of the Prozorov family. The well-educated daughters of the late general yearn for a more glamorous life than the one they're living in their father's remote garrison outpost. Olga seeks solace in a steady post with good benefits, and Irina in irresolute job hopping. Masha, married to a fusty old academic, has an affair. Their sister-in-law, Natalya, rules the household with an iron hand even as she consorts openly with her husband's boss.

So why don't they just hand in their resignations, divorce their spouses, and decamp to the big city that so tempts them? Because the play is set in turn-of-the-century Russia, though in this time-traveling production it looks like 1950s America--another era of stifling conformity and repression. Under Devin Brain's direction, the denizens of this old-world Peyton Place exhibit not the existential inertia common to stagings of Chekhov but intense passion, their desires simmering so near the surface that a fatal duel seems not at all unlikely.

Imposing modern sensibilities on Constance Garnett's 1916 translation poses a challenge to these young actors. But this GroundUp-Clock production exhibits a vigorous immediacy: John Moran's Solyony suggests a protopunk stalker, Martin Halacy gives the avuncular Chebutykin a genial gravity, and Nick Maroon generates an unusual sympathy for the cuckolded Professor Kulygin.

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