I seldom go to the Playhouse, pretty much for the same reason I seldom read bestsellers. My thinking and interests are closer to the edge than that.
But I wanted to see Chekhov’s Three Sisters – since it was a new version by playwright Sarah Ruhl, whose enigmatic and oddly angled works I find compelling. It was also directed by Tony winner John Doyle, who created Company a few years ago. Should have been a treat.
And decidedly was not. To the contrary – half the audience left at the intermission. Evidently, it’s been that way throughout the run. (And this is in the very polite Cincinnati!) I would have followed them, but I’m just stubborn. Sarah Ruhl’s contribution, from my observation, was to make the dialogue more contemporary. The conversations didn’t sound at all like other Chekhov plays I’ve seen.
The set was interesting – but really, just awful. Trash strewn around, a few chairs, much taking off and putting on of coats. All of that stage business was well done – the designers certainly carried out the theme they had chosen, and the cast moved well within it. But O, the Dreariness.
I probably would not have liked this play if it were set in a well-furnished drawing room. But the set made explicit the meanness, the passive aggression, the general passivity of all the roles. Which was good. And then dreadful. Why didn’t someone just get on a train and go to Moscow? Anything would have been better than staying there – and sure would have been a lot more fun. As would almost any other production of almost any other play.