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The Three Sisters

Presented by The Oberon Theatre Ensemble at the Jan Hus Playhouse, 351 E. 74 St., NYC, April 26-May 11.

The Oberon Theatre Ensemble has presented classic works from playwrights such as Shakespeare, Ibsen, Euripides, and Molière. This time out it's Anton Chekhov's turn to get the Oberon treatment, and the result is a traditional, tender interpretation.

"The Three Sisters" is Chekhov's tale of the lives and unrequited loves of a quartet of Russian siblings, all conflicted characters looking for something better. The Prozorov family—Olga (Linda Hetrick), Masha (Laura Siner), Irina (Jane Courtney), and brother Andrey (Jordan Meadows), spend their days in a dreary province, keeping company with spouses and suitors, soldiers and servants. But no one seems happy with his or her lot in life, and a trip to big city Moscow becomes a wishful mantra. Fate, however, has other plans for the clan, and in the end they are no closer to their dreams than when they started.

Director Rex McGraw instills the four-act drama (which Chekhov thought of as a comedy) with moments of melancholy and mirth, occasionally losing focus amid the overlapping storylines, but eventually getting everything back on track. His talented ensemble is led by the sensitive trio of Hetrick, Siner, and Courtney. Meadows is appropriately irresponsible as the brother, and Scot Carlisle as Masha's mistreated husband is a solid study of frustration. Stewart Walker delivers a natural, nuanced Baron, and Karen Sternberg as Andrey's aggressive wife Natalya energizes each scene she is in. John C. Fitzmaurice is empathetic as the physician who drinks to forget, and William Laney is explosive as Irina's unwanted suitor. Karen Prager comes on strong toward the end as the long-suffering nurse.

Ed Stauffer's scenic design features artistic hanging drapes and tree trunks, and his lighting scheme keeps it well illuminated. Practical yet pretty period costumes by Janice Stauffer transport viewers back in time. The sound team of Charles Hatcher and Matt Kraus's subtly interjects their integral contributions.

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