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THREE SISTERS (article first published : 2002-09-14)

Sex, scandal, intrigue and romance? In a Chekhov play? Absolutely! Anton Chekhov's classic play Three Sisters captures the multiple threads of life and weaves them into a superb mosaic, rich in complexity, irony and beauty, creating a theatrical delight that will inspire, move and enrich audiences.

First produced in 1901, and considered by many critics the greatest play of the century, Chekhov's Three Sisters is given a new look in a contemporary and exciting production to be presented at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre by the University of Natal Durban’s department of drama.

Adapted to reflect images of local South African life and experience in the not-too-distant past, the production retains Chekhov's uniquely ironic style and beautiful human stories, while at the same time seeking to create and highlight the resonances and shape of 20th century existence. The result is a play brought directly into a contemporary South African multicultural and diverse landscape, proving that the classic text can speak as vigorously and profoundly now as it did 100 years ago.

Stuck in a rural town somewhere in southern Africa, three sisters dream of freedom, of love, of romance, and of going “home”. The play opens on the day of the youngest sister's birthday – a day that brings with it the arrival of two figures who will forever transform the family.

The rest of the play spans five years in the lives of this unique family and the people who love and sometimes despise them. Told with a deep understanding of human nature, and chronicling through this one family the disintegration of a society, this is a beautiful play of character that explores the gap between hope and fulfillment, whilst never forgetting the laughter that underpins Chekhov's world view.

It also seethes with undercurrents of lust and adventure, anger and great compassion, making for a vibrant and deeply textured portrait of human beings and their complex natures. It was once said of Chekhov's plays that nothing happens in them, except that one world ends and another begins: this is the sort of drama that shakes the spirit, wakes the imagination and reminds us why we seek to create art.

Directed by Tamar Meskin (People Are Living There, War Cry), it is designed by Mervyn McMurtry - the same team who brought the highly successful Midsummer Night's Dream and Comedy of Errors to the Durban stage. The play features an exciting and vibrant young cast, offering audiences a unique opportunity to see a classic of western theatre, updated and reworked to present the view of "life as it really is" that Chekhov sought to create in his theatrical practice.

Three Sisters will be presented at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre for a strictly limited run from September 23 to 28 at 19h00. Tickets R15 (R10 for students/scholars/block bookings over 10). Further information or bookings on 031 260-3134 (08h30 to 13h00 pm) or fax 031 260-1410 or e-mail: wagnerc1@nu.ac.za




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