Set in Trinidad in 1941, three sisters, Audrey, Alma and Helen, live an affluent life with their brother, an ambitious but alcoholic gambler, in a large extravagant house; the set for the entirety of the play.
Their lives are filled with trivial concerns and the dream of returning to their childhood home of Cambridge – that is, until the arrival of Captain Rivers, in charge of Audrey’s boyfriend’s platoon; and the emerging realisation that the escalation of World War II is going to change their lives as they know it.
Three Sisters has been reworked from the Chekhov original many times for the stage, this time by award-winning Mustapha Matura. All the action happens in one room, with narration by the characters bringing the unseen parts of the story to life, including a great fire rampaging its way through the town, clashes between civilians and soldiers, and the passionate affair between married Helen and the visiting captain, in the chaotic run up to the war.
This was hugely enjoyable: all characters gave strong and often witty performances, the plot unfolded quite surprisingly in places, and there were sufficient amusing moments. The only disappointment was the final scene. Despite it containing the majority of the action of the whole play, it was completed in about five minutes. However, the play is greatly recommended if you can catch it on its tour around the country’s theatres with the Eclipse Theatre Company.