Three Sisters poignantly conveys the lives, struggles, loves and secret desires of sisters Masha, Olga and Irina and their somewhat ineffective brother Andrei. Set in a mythological provincial town in the late 1800s, Russia, we see their life unfold in front of our eyes. On the surface, The Three Sisters is a charming and endearing story but on further examination feelings of hopelessness, anguish and dissatisfaction are unapologetically evoked. The very emotions, that a decade later, would tear Russia apart and leave her in a state of political upheaval for years to come.
Chekhov's lifelong desire to live in Moscow was curtailed due to his ill health and in The Three Sisters the words "to Moscow, to Moscow" appear frequently in the dialogue – an analogy of his yearning to live there and a reminder of the unattainable and something lost. The Three Sisters is a gem. It bravely explores the human condition and our ability or inability to survive and adapt. It is both funny and sad. It is humbling and frustrating and within the memory of better days, in another time, we can expose ourselves.
The play begins on Irina's name day, with celebration in the air. The sisters are introduced to us as they reminisce about their past and the death of their father. We are soon introduced to the rest of the characters in relation to the sisters, and by the end they all come together and sit down to lunch. Before this, some important relationships are established. Masha and Vershinin have an instant connection that is yet unspoken. Andrei declares his love for Natasha, a lower class woman who doesn't quite fit into the standards of the three sisters.
The act begins with the establishment of Natasha's and Andrei's marriage. Natasha worries about her ill son Bobik, which expressed how the dynamics of the house have changed. She begins to take over the house. Plans for the carnival masques to celebrate at the house are cancelled at Natasha's request. This doesn't make the sisters happy. The ownership of the house is constantly challenged. Tuzenbach declares his deep love for Irina, followed by Solyony's affirmation of his love for her also. Vershinin, despite the fact that he is married, declares his love for Masha, despite the fact that she too is married. Andrei develops gambling problem while Natasha starts to have an affair with Protopopov.
Half the town is on fire. Andrei mortgages the house without the sister's permission.
The characters are purged into urgent action to survive.
Natasha dominates the house. Irina becomes engaged to Tuzenbach. Soldiers leave the province. Vershinin and Masha leave – though not together, their affair comes to an end. The state of the characters is one of complete division.
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