By Myka Ellenwood
Three Sisters, written by Anton Chekhov, was performed by the Bethel University Theatre Department on Friday, September 27th, and Saturday, September 28th. It was directed by guest director, Clarence A. Gilyard Jr., and held in the Brian and Paqui Kelly Auditorium. Three Sisters takes place in Russia in the mid-1800s and spans the course of several years.
This play can be hard to understand because of the long monologues and older style of talking. For these reasons, the plot was a little harder to figure out. I talked with some of the technical crew and they explained that the three sisters were just trying to find a meaning for life. The catch is that they all have a different view on the meaning of life.
The show opens with the three sisters Olga (Hope Nofziger), Masha (Allie Schweigert), and Irina (Rebekah Goodwin) sitting in their parlor discussing the significance of the day, the anniversary of their father’s death and Irina’s naming day. The sisters and their brother, Andrei (Roger DeLoof) dream of returning to Moscow and how much better their lives will be. They are soon joined by members of the army (Andrew Cora, Adam Foster, Stephen White, Josiah Hackett, Roland Kinsman, and Ethan Babler), who have been in the town for some while. The sisters attempt to involve their brother Andrei, but he prefers to be alone or with his only love Natasha (Megan McGhee). At the end of act 1, Andrei proposes to Natasha. The play progresses throughout the years, exploring the relationships between family and friends.
Andrei and Natasha are married and have a child. She starts to manipulate Andrei and the household, acting the exact opposite of how she was before they were married. Natasha also enters into an affair with Protopopov, who is the president of the town council and Andrei’s boss. Andrei starts to drink and gamble during this time as well. He is forced to mortgage the house because he accrued so much debt. He longs for his bachelor days and dreams of going back to Moscow.
Masha, who is unhappy in her marriage to a schoolteacher Kulygin (Joshua Goodwin), enters into an affair with Vershinin (Stephen White). Kulygin finds out about the affair, but still accepts Masha and forgives her after the affair ends when the army is stationed elsewhere. During the affair, Kulygin mentions that he and Olga would be a much better fit because they are both teachers. Olga does not agree with him, even though she longs to be married. Irina longs for love as well. She agrees to marry The Baron (Josiah Hackett). Before their wedding, he is killed in a duel.
The end of the play is bleak. The sisters realize that their dreams of Moscow and finding true love will not fulfill them. They find comfort in knowing they will always have each other.
I felt that the acting was very well done. Josiah Hackett’s performance as The Baron was done well. The Baron was drunk in the play for a good portion of the play and he made me believe that he was intoxicated. I would be too if the girl I was trying to court did not want me but constantly talked of love and longing for a husband. Gerard Hall’s performance of Farapont lifted spirits in the right way. He caused laughter and smiles with his shouting at characters to talk louder and his ramblings of Moscow. Meghan McGhee performance was wonderful. The character development from a shy girl to a manipulative, commandeering woman was seen clearly through her acting.
From the acting to the directing Three Sisters really came to life on the stage. It was a show I would see again.