Anton Chekhov wrote his classic play Three Sisters around 1900, in the lead up to the Russian Revolution. What relevance does it have to contemporary college students at a liberal arts school in rural Pennsylvania? In the wake of directing a production of the piece at Franklin and Marshall college in Lancaster County, theater professor Rachel Anderson-Rabern provides some clues with her Fringe show THREE SISTERS AND A WOLF.
Wee Keep Company’s curiously endearing work juxtaposes scenes from Chekhov with glimpses of college actors preparing for the production, students responding to the play (“I guess it was successful cos it made me feel something, but I don’t like what it made me feel”), excerpts from the playwright’s personal letters, stagehands sweeping the floor, and a series of inscrutable dance interludes. Sometimes twee, at times the scenes coalesce beautifully, as when the three Chekhovian sisters (young talents Holly Andrew, Charlotte Brooks, and Amanda Schumacher) settle down to watch Love Actually, or in a beautiful and fitting closing rendition of Wailin’ Jennys’ “One Voice”. Weaving through these threads is the story of the extinction of the wolf in Pennsylvania, which happened as Three Sisters was being written. By exploring the mundane aspects of theatermaking and the way performances interact with the world in which they are made, THREE SISTERS AND A WOLF shows how the magic of Chekhov’s play can still thrive in the wilds of PA. [The Playground at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom Street] September 5-13, 2015; fringearts.com/three-sisters-and-a-wolf.