Three Sisters on Hope Street

Posted on: 31 March 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

This re-working of Chekhov's play centres around a Jewish family in post-war Liverpool.

If you can picture Chekhov's famous Three Sisters vividly re-imagined and relocated to a tight-knit Jewish community in Liverpool in 1946 you will get some idea of the flavour of Diane Samuels and Tracy-Ann Oberman's play Three Sisters on Hope Street (Hampstead Theatre).

A year after the sudden death of their father, sisters Gertie, May and Rita Lasky share their once grand home on Hope Street with their asthmatic brother Arnold, Auntie Beil, who still keeps her packed suitcase under the spare bed, and old family friend Dr. Nate Weinberg, who claims, hand on heart, to be on the wagon.

As the sisters regularly welcome GIs and pilots from the nearby American base, each continues her own search for meaning amidst the shattered remains of their city in a rapidly changing world.

This inventive 20th century version of the Chekhov classic retains the themes of hope and despair and change and survival, while shedding new light on the rootlessness and sense of displacement experienced by educated Jewish immigrants in the austerity of post-war Britain. To be honest I found the first half rather slow and uneventful but after the interval the production gathers momentum and manages to combine warmth, poignancy and humour.

Director Lindsay Posner coaxes strong performances from his well drilled cast, most notably Samantha Robinson as the idealistic Rita, who dreams of working on a kibbutz in the promised land, and Anna Francolini and Susan Sylvester as the other sisters who here yearn for New York rather than Moscow, and, especially Philip Voss as the elderly, alcoholic doctor, full of disgust and despair, who performs back street abortions.

In short then a long (three hours) but rewarding evening in the theatre.

Plays until 29th March 2008.

Laurence Green

Booking Information

Box Office: 020 7722 9301 or: www.hampsteadtheatre.com

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