Theatre Review: Three Sisters by Rashdash, after Chekhov @ Tobacco Factory Theatres
by Georgia Gillespie
The stage is set with 20th century décor, the audience chatter in anticipation as the room fills to the brim. Then, the music fades and the lights dim, we are in total darkness. A single spotlight on a statue appears. Chekhov, the original playwright of this production originally written in 1900. After another moment of darkness, we meet our cast: five women dressed in lavish gowns sat quiet. This is no ordinary re-telling of a classic. RashDash has brought the story of Three Sisters into the 21st century, putting their own feminist twist on it and bringing the female characters to the forefront. No men are seen but merely mentioned as the sisters talk about what Chekhov wrote: heartbreak, desire and fulfilment, all of which we can relate to. But they have more to say. The talented trio put into question the patriarchal narrative of the original piece and decide to tell it their way.
This is not a period drama that one may assume, unaware of RashDash’s previous work I did not expect the mash up of comedy, musicality and fierceness which made it so captivating and extremely enjoyable. The team behind this show are geniuses. From the lines to the lyrics, we are gifted with wit and humour. The first musical number was a punk rock anthem of frustration at men stealing the limelight in this production, “why do you always steal our lines?” the sisters sing.
"The team behind this show are geniuses"
Other numbers consist of the middle sister, Masha, explaining what she wishes for her ex-lover while Irena, the youngest, sings about well, not knowing what to sing about. The musical talent among these five women is unquestionable. The jaw dropping vocals from each and every one, partnered with smashing drums (Chloe Rianna) and exquisite violin playing (Yoon-Ji Kim) made for hair-raising performances throughout.
The three sisters worked perfectly in sync with one another, unsurprisingly as they are the brains behind this production company. Helen Goalen (Olg) Abbi Greenland (Masha) and Becky Wilkie (Irena) make up RashDash and wholeheartedly put themselves into this performance. With modern day references, such as Facebook invites, finding signal and swiping on Tinder, the trios perfect comedic timing had the audience in stiches from the first second. Their performances were sleek and smooth, every costume change and transition were seamless. They exposed themselves to us, quite literally, and with their inner monologues of their wishes, desires and worries, they were not only amusing but relatable. They have stated that this production was neither worshiping nor attacking the original but told their way, asking themselves “what if we were the sisters?” Personally, I have never seen the original play but I do know for certain, it was performance like no other.
Photo credit: The Other Richard