In the News: The Arden Theatre Company's New Production of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters

02 Apr 2014


Full cast of Three Sisters at the Arden Theatre Company. Photo by Mark Garvin.

The Arden Theatre Company's new production of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters, open through April 20, is featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer and NewsWorks.

In his Inquirer article, John Timpane looks into the Arden's ongoing relationship with the Russian playwright and the company's unique approach to its current production: "Three Sisters, the searing, ambiguous masterpiece often called 'Chekhov's Lear,' is [...] the result of two arduous years of development," Timpane writes. "Set in a house in the provinces, Sisters revolves around the Prozorov sisters, Masha, Olga, and Irina, all of whom long for Moscow. The play is, again like Lear, both epic and delicate, tragic and comic, and hard to do well, so a professional company might approach with caution. For this one, [director Terrence J.] Nolen sought out translator Curt Columbus for a new rendering; the two even traveled to Russia to 'get an immersion in all things Chekhov.' Columbus found American equivalents for the patronymics and diminutives that bewilder U.S. audiences. He even 'put back in all Chekhov's commas' when he realized they made a difference." Read more >

In the Inquirer's review of the production, David Patrick Stearns writes, "The sets by Eugene Lee helped chart the progression: The opening scene was stark even by rehearsal-room standards. The final scene was wonderfully atmospheric, with the family mansion in the distance and the birch trees already bare as another winter arrives and the garrison's soldiers depart, never to come back. [...]The production's eccentricities lowered your guard, and the final scenes contained considerable feats of acting." Read more >

At NewsWorks, Peter Crimmins discusses the Arden's collaborative approach leading up to the production: "The cast of 14 actors has been working on this production for a year, attending writing workshops with the translator Curt Columbus, vetting every word and every comma, bringing their own skills to bear (two of the actors speak Russian, several are musicians), and going to rehearsal after rehearsal for this story of the complicated lives of four siblings. [...] On paper, it is a wildly inefficient way to put on a play, but Nolen says it makes for better theater." Read more >

David Anthony Fox of Philadelphia CityPaper calls the production "a cultural event that sets a new standard" and says, "Faced with the challenge of one of the greatest modern plays in the repertoire, director Terry Nolen has upped his game. This labor of love, done in collaboration with artists from Trinity Rep in Rhode Island, was two years in the making, and it shows in every detail." Read more >