Three Sisters: A Black Opera - by Kristine Nutting - Who Is John Moe Productions (ChekhovFest)

Certainly among the more lively of Chekhovfest's productions, the company of Three Sisters: A Black Opera present an irreverent re-think of one of Chekhov's greatest plays, by prairie playwright Kristine Nutting. The premise is excellent; the 3 sisters are located in Bigger, Saskatchewan, with only their father-turned-dragQueen Mummy-Daddy, a terrifying Credit Union Manager trying to buy Pax (the Irina parallel), and a cute but dopey pig farmer also in love with Pax. Through a sordid tale, we see the sisters' desires and hopes dashed, much like the original. And unfortunately much like the original...nothing much happens. While the clever songs and witty monologues are fun, we never seem to progress beyond the opening moment in terms of style and energy. When a show begins with such a high note, it is tough to progress anywhere, I suppose.

There are certainly things to love in this performance; Dora Carrol is hilarious, Jacqueline Harding's voice is to die for, Jeff Strome's Mummy-Daddy is fantastic, and the accompaniment led by the highly talented Suss adds a beautiful macabre element to the proceedings. Unfortunately the cast is uneven, both vocally and in terms of performance skill, and as a result the piece feels lengthy, even though at only 75 minutes it is definitely among the shorter of the festival. The use of the space (the wonderfully seedy Club St B is a perfect fit for the show) is clever at first, but then stagnates. And depending on your location in the audience, there are some serious sight line issues.

Overall a fun show, definitely a great break from the slow anxiety of most Chekhov fare, but it left me wanting more out of the text and direction.