Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Three Sisters

The Yard Theatre

RashDash Credit: The Other Richard
RashDash Credit: The Other Richard

The anarchic funsters RashDash have applied their comic imagination to Chekhov’s Three Sisters and created a cabaret of loosely connected sketches, lots of costume changes and some incredibly good music.

However it would be difficult to spot a story.

Cut the show into pieces and reassemble it any way you like and it will still make the same chaotic sense. It’s visually imaginative, playfully amusing and always busy but there is very little narrative.

Masha (Abbi Greenland), Olga (Helen Goalen) and Irena (Becky Wilkie) open the show with several brief amusing tableaux, some of which have them wearing grand dresses and others with them wearing blue uniforms over their dresses as they speak the ridiculous words of men.

Later, after changing their costumes a few times, they become our contemporaries, but unlike most women these three characters are the super-privileged who have to worry about what they can find to do with their day and in Irena’s case how she can live without a man in her life.

Fleetingly, Olga mentions those poor people in the burning building and Masha says she will join a march about it, but they quickly return to talkabout Facebook, a trip to Thailand, food and men.

It’s a hard life, but, unlike the women in Chekhov’s play, they don’t have the illusion of an escape to Moscow to relieve their boredom.

It seems like every few minutes they change their clothes and often, to avoid any time wasting, they change in front of us, stripping almost naked.

Mostly the play takes place at speed on a stage containing a bath, a couch, a chair and various musical instruments. They are very fine singers and you could imagine joining them simply to enjoy the music.

But these anarchic funsters are here for the jokes, especially if they can change into another costume and, for instance, rush out as cheerleading formation dancers for Chekhov.

A bust of Chekhov’s head revolves at the side of the stage for most of the performance, till Irena picks it up and holds it as if it is sucking milk from her naked breast.

Occasionally, they make a comment on the text. Irena momentarily interrupts her conversation with Olga and Masha to point out that “we don’t exist. We are just versions of a white guy's imagination.”

That’s the kind of line we should expect from the feminist funsters though their feminism is very lightly applied and is more of a striking, stylistic confidence than anything that particularly objects to the way the world is.

But then feminism can mean lots of things. After all, a Radio Four interviewee this week said “you can tell Meghan Markle is a feminist because she walked down the aisle unaided,” and our funsters for feminism can not only walk but they jump, run and dance unaided. What’s more, they probably have many more costume changes than Meghan Markle.

They are the feminist funsters worth seeing.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna