Scarlet Theatre, Sisters and Others

Review in Issue 12-4 | Winter 2000

This is the fourth production that Scarlet have made in collaboration with Polish director Katarzyna Deszcz, and these pieces could easily sink into difficult waters were it not for her consummate skill. Tightly pacing and choreographing every moment of the play; adeptly cutting across extended periods of repetition with frantic activity; picking out the nuances and detail at the same time as drawing the piece with broad and heavy strokes – not a second of material is allowed to slip away from the tight control of nine performers under her superb direction.

The piece itself presents in the first act the female protagonists of Chekhov's The Three Sisters, whilst their male companions appear in the second. Chekhov's play is a delicately written layering of feeling upon feeling, coincidence upon coincidence, finally creating an illusion of reality that is, at the same time, profoundly theatrical. Both these aspects are foregrounded in Scarlet's liberal adaptation. The characters become ciphers for their original selves – lines are repeated, movements entrap them in the physicalisation of character, images stack up – echoing the layers that unfold in the original – until eventually the cracks begin to appear and the stifling repetition gives way to a powerful unfolding of events and emotions. Jane Guemier's wonderful Anfisa links the two acts together, casting a comic light on these dramas of banality.

However, by the time the men appear in the second half of this double bill, the formal choreographic style has become a little too familiar to be able to bear all over again, and the coming and going and shouting and stamping of the characters really just reinforces the fact that the men in this play are cast from very rough clay in comparison to the fine detail with which the sisters are presented.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-4
p. 28