All images: The Other Richard
According to legend Hugh Hunt, Bristol Old Vic’s first artistic director, once noted: “If things go really well, we might think about doing Chekhov.”
Fast forward 70 years and RashDash were told to knock out a classic if they wanted to raise their profile. Chekhov. Chekhov. Chekhov. Let’s get one thing out of the way. Like well-behaved theatre practitioners, RashDash obliged and Chekhov’s Three Sisters is in there; well-served and consistent with what the dead, white Russian male wrote.
Now onto more important matters. Not content with simply ‘doing Chekhov’, RashDash have thrown away the rule book and have devised an interrogation into what and who Chekhov serves and why, if at all, we should be made to sit through it at all today.
Owning the stage for 90 minutes, as the sisters, Helen Goalen, Abbi Greenland and Becky Wilkie, along with Chloe Rianna on drums and Yoon-Ji Kim on violin and synth, RashDash holler a resounding ‘Fuck You’ to everything from convention to expectation, tradition to post-modernism.
The familiar and constant Chekhovian costume changes are marked with numerous changes from ball gowns to Union Jack dresses, each rapidly discarded and dumped on stage. The stage is a curiosity shop of random items – but each item is used to full effect. The soundtrack is littered with contemporary social commentary that is delivered like a punch in the guts to those it sets out to target.
This anarchic, beautiful mess is actually a tightly woven and intricately detailed piece of theatre that in turn exposes the pitfalls of conventional theatre and reveals the true nature of what theatre should be: a dynamic, heart-thumping, gut-wrenching, pulse-racing arena.
It matters that the stage is full of women. Take note. This is a state-of-the-nation king-hit to shake up tradition, privilege and expectation. RashDash guide you through their Russian rollercoaster with a heady mix of post-punk absurdism that will leave you more enlightened, entertained and enchanted then you thought possible. Kudos to Bristol’s MAYK, Tobacco Factory Theatres and Bristol Old Vic for being a major force in commissioning this work.
You must see RashDash’s Three Sisters but be warned: after seeing it, you will only ever want your theatre to be made by RashDash.
Three Sisters by RashDash, After Chekhov continues at Tobacco Factory Theatres until Saturday, June 16. For more info, visit www.tobaccofactorytheatres.com/shows/three-sisters-rashdash-chekhov
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