Stage Door: Mixed Reactions to "Three Sisters"

There does not seem to be any middle ground about the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park's production of Chekhov's Three Sisters. I've had conversations with people who loved its theatricality and the unusual concept overlaid by director John Doyle. Others think the new adaptation by Sarah Ruhl (who came to see the production last Sunday) is exceptional. But even more Playhouse patrons have been dismayed and confused, and many have departed — some complaining loudly — at intermission. One friend called it "Eurotrash," a derogatory term implying tasteless camping up of a classic with tasteless, sometimes vulgar overlays. What I can say for this production is that it stirs people up, and that's something that the best theater achieves. I admired this production (it has a cast of top-notch actors and designers), and while my own reaction to its totality was mixed, I still find myself thinking about it — sometimes to wonder what Doyle was trying to say. But that kind of provocation is what he was after, I suspect.

At any rate, Doyle took Ruhl's script of Chekhov's 1905 play about three sisters stuck at a remote military outpost, longing to return to Moscow, where culture and intelligent people thrived, and directed it with a filter that is idiosyncratic and intriguing. If you haven't seen it and you're a serious theater fan, I suggest you give it a try. I feel certain you'll be fascinated, even if you don't get everything that's going on.

You won't have trouble getting a ticket, because it's not selling especially well ... unreserved tickets for half-price can be purchased on the day of show at the Playhouse box office between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. If you have a student ID, you can buy up to two tickets for $18, starting two hours prior to curtain, either in person or by phone. For senior citizens, the Playhouse honors the Golden Buckeye Card and also allows you to buy up to two tickets for $18, beginning two hours before the curtain, either in person or by phone. The Playhouse box office number is 513-421-3888.

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