With 14 actors on stage, Three Sisters is a compelling new adaptation of one of Chekhov’s masterpieces. So who are these people and how are they related? We asked the cast to describe the character they are playing in their own words…
Set in a small, remote town dominated by an army base, the Prozorov family consists of four siblings – three sisters and a brother. Both of the Prozorovs’ parents have died. The mother many years ago; the father precisely one year earlier, on Irina’s 21st birthday. Irina’s 22nd birthday is thus also the first anniversary of her father’s death. Old family friends and acquaintances drop in on the family to mark the occasion...
Olga - The eldest sister
Olga is the eldest Prozorov sibling. Highly intelligent, she channels her intellect into teaching at the local school but finds it to be unsatisfying. She has a sensitive disposition, finds life exhausting, suffers from stress headaches, and clings to her bottles of painkillers. She’s single, though shares a gentle loving connection with Kulygin, something she’s reluctant to acknowledge. She decides romantic love cannot be a part of her life.
Eryn Jean Norvill
Masha - The middle sister
Masha is the middle child. She takes after her mother. Her actions are messy, honest and excessive. She pursues her own happiness – even when it comes at the expense of others, and she won't apologise for it.
Irina - The youngest sister
Irina is the baby of the family, doted upon and adored by the many men that surround her. However, she struggles to be heard. Her philosophy is built around avoiding the traps she sees her siblings fall into. She turns to work and is gradually disillusioned by the lack of fulfilment, in spite of her relentless efforts. Boy does she try, but reality is a constant disappointment after all the dreaming she has done.
Andrei - The only son, the fourth sibling
Andrei is the fourth sibling. He is a character burdened by the expectations of both himself and his three sisters. A man stuck in a self-dug hole of failed ambitions, dashed hopes and inertia. While academically gifted, his social skills could do with some refinement. He’s a cautionary tale about the perils of passivity in one’s own life.
Natasha - Andrei’s wife, the sister-in-law
Natasha is from the town, but she is not a sister. She marries Andrei and becomes Irina, Masha and Olga’s sister-in-law.
Kulygin - Masha’s husband
Kulygin is a bit of a legend in the town. He’s the most handsome, the most accomplished and probably the best teacher in the world. Everybody loves him. His students love him. The other teachers love him but most of all his wife, Masha, loves him. She loves him so passionately and deeply. Their marriage is the best marriage in history. Nothing could possibly go wrong. His marriage is really, really, really good. Really good. Kulygin is not delusional.
Mark Leonard Winter
Vershinin - An army commander
Vershinin has taken over command of the army posted in the town. He provides a portal for the sisters to a more stimulating time in their lives, when the house was alive and ideas were discussed and debated. He develops a deep connection to Masha born out of the pair finding themselves in unhappy marriages. His chief pre-occupation is that life is difficult for us now, but we must persist because our efforts today will benefit generations to come.
Tusenbach - An army liuetenant
Tusenbach comes from great wealth. In Irina, the youngest sister, he has found his muse. Through the pursuit of her, Tusenbach turns his back on privilege to create a more fulfilled life. A life with purpose. Desperado by The Eagles would be an apt soundtrack to his life.
Solyony - An army captain
Solyony is the most romantic character in the house and is in love with one of the sisters. Tusenbach is his best friend, but he does not trust him. Solyony is afraid of nothing and no one.
Anthony Brandon Wong
Chebutikin - An army doctor
Chebutikin is a long-standing friend of the Prozorov family and a doctor on the army base. The great love of his life was the late Mrs Prozorov – mother of Olga, Masha, Irina and Andrei. He adores Irina and relates to her as if she was his own child. The doctor is also partial to alcohol – red wine being one of his favourites.
Fedotik - An army sub-lieutenant
Fedotik and Rode are inseparable. They are two fun-loving sub lieutenants who invariably invade every big gathering of the Prozorov house with their drink, song and good cheer. Fedotik is smitten with Irina who meets his gifts and advances with a mixture of indifference and something not unlike pity towards the younger man. Nevertheless, he can be seen wandering around town belting out The Who and taking Polaroids of anything and everything.
Rode - An army sub-liutenant
Rode is your best friend – but better. Despite having hidden feelings for the youngest sister Irina, constantly trying to impress her with his musical abilities, he buries his feelings and supports Fedotik’s efforts to pursue her – to no avail… He is a sub lieutenant, who is oblivious to the fact that he has a lisp, is always eager to party – finding any excuse to drink, dance and play music.
Anfisa - A housekeeper
Anfisa actually does what so many of the other characters talk about – work! She’s a doer, not a talker. Someone from another generation, a survivor. You learn a lot about the other characters through the way they treat her and how an elderly woman dependent on sustenance from others can be disenfranchised and marginalised in a society that sees her as disposable or invisible.
Phillip - A messenger
Phillip is a messenger boy really – he brings forms up to the big house. He doesn’t hear very well, so he doesn’t know what the other characters talk about. But he did get to eat cake, once, in the kitchen.
Three Sisters, 6 Nov – 16 Dec 2017, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House
Seeing the show? Let us know your thoughts. Tag @sydneytheatreco and #sydneytheatreco