Three Sisters

“It’s sweat on your brow that gives life meaning,” says one of the supporting characters in Chekhov’s Three Sisters, and it’s fair to say that, on occasions, there’s a distracting sense of effort being made by some cast members, which is not always comfortable for the audience. Yet one of the strengths of Lung Ha – Scotland’s principal theatre company for performers with learning disabilities – is that they’ve never shied away from taking on challenging work.

A defiant reminder of why Lung Ha’s voice deserves to be heard.

Under Maria Oller’s nuanced, yet bold artistic direction, Lung Ha have tackled Chekhov before, but this large-scale attempt at one of the writer’s most iconic works – in a new version by playwright Adrian Osmond – arguably pushes some of its performers to the edge of their performance abilities. Equally, though, it showcases some true star turns, most notably by the three actors playing the titular sisters: Emma McCaffrey is the solid, reliable core of the show as unmarried schoolteacher Olga; Nicola Tuxworth embodies the frustrations of unhappily married Masha; and Emma Clark gives a nervous energy as youngest sister Irena.

They are certainly given some invaluable support: an energetic Gavin Yule never fails to find some fun in Latin teacher Fyodor, who fails to notice – or, more likely, turns a blind eye to – Masha’s affair with the philosophically-minded Lieutenant-Colonel Veshinin (Paul Harper). Kenneth Ainslie’s painful-looking physicality, meantime, helps give a greater depth to what on paper is a far-from-sympathetic role as the sister’s foolish brother Andrey, whose weakness for gambling and lustful choice of the domineering Natasha (an at times genuinely scary Teri Robb) as his wife, ultimately fractures the sisters’ home and lives together.

As one of the company’s “big” productions, Three Sisters benefits from its cast of 20; Oller again shows her skill in choreographing such a multitude on stage, with the support of movement director Janis Claxton. Designer Karen Tennent, who has worked often with Lung Ha, again produces an environment which is evocative of the late 19th century without being a slave to detail, with sufficient flexibility to represent both interiors and exteriors as required – helped, of course, by Andrew Gannon’s lighting. The live music, by Finnish composer Anna-Karin Korhonen, successfully evokes the melodies and melancholy of Russian folk tunes.

Three Sisters is arguably about people straining against the societal expectations imposed on them, a theme given additional depth by the nature of its cast. Sadly, it’s impossible to ignore the wider context in which this particular production launched — namely Lung Ha’s controversial loss, and subsequent reinstatement, of regular funding from Creative Scotland. If nothing else, the timing ensured Three Sisters necessarily became a defiant reminder of why Lung Ha’s voice deserves to be heard.

Reviews by Paul Fisher Cockburn

Summerhall

One of Two

★★★★
Scottish Storytelling Centre

Moira in Lockdown

★★★★★
Laughing Horse @ Bar 50

Love and Sex on the Spectrum

★★★★
Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mrs Puntila And Her Man Matti

★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Olga, Masha and Irina long for the glamour of Moscow; they long to be free of the life they have been “given” in provincial Russia, to escape the countryside and return to the society to which they belong. But with the constant visits of soldiers and dignitaries, of family, friends and ‘acquaintances’, with work to be done, with marriages to be honoured, will they ever be free of the family’s legacy and find fulfilment? Award-winning Lung Ha Theatre Company, together with the world-renowned Sibelius Academy of the University of The Arts (Helsinki, Finland), present Anton Chekhov’s classic play—in a new version by Adrian Osmond.

Most Popular See More

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £42.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets