Loft’s latest leaves much to ponder about our existence

Emma Cooper, Rachel Adams and Flora Garner as the Three Sisters
Emma Cooper, Rachel Adams and Flora Garner as the Three Sisters

Review: Gloomy masterpiece will leave Loft audiences thinking

You won’t leave Chekhov’s gloomy masterpiece singing for joy, but you will leave it impressed, moved and thoughtful. It touches on some deep and dark themes. Not the shock horror kind, but the sort that might wake you in the middle of the night wondering what life is all about.

Three sisters, Olga (Emma Cooper), Masha (Rachel Adams), Irena (Flora Garner) and their brother Andrey (Joe Riley) live in a provincial town somewhere in Russia at the turn of the last century. They have nothing urgent to do. They are bourgeoisie; over-educated and comfortable. They spend much of their time trying to find meaning in their lives.

Thankfully their town is home to a garrison of soldiers, who provide what little amusement is to be had in this stagnant backwater, though even they are eventually called away.

Meanwhile Andrey gambles away most of their small fortune and marries a local woman who takes over the household and bullies the sisters remorselessly.

The whole cast deliver some really strong performances, worthy of any stage you care to name. The production is as delicate as a flower. I particularly liked Mark Crossley as Kulygin, the sweet, dull, self-deceiving schoolmaster married to angry Masha. His simple goodness seemed to reflect both the cause of their ills and their ultimate salvation.

The more one thinks about this play and this performance the more one finds to think about. Trying to define it is like sculpting with smoke. It’s a slow-burning beauty that will enrich and trouble your nocturnal musings.

Nick Le Mesurier