Who or what are the classics for?: RashDash present Three Sisters
"Fuck you and your excellent words."
Questioning how actors and audience ought to interact with the canon, RashDash explode onto the stage to fight for an artist’s right against the dictatorial bonds of the script.
Chekhov’s Three Sisters tells the story of promising Russian siblings who are confined to a life of marriages, affairs and ‘what if’s. The women of RashDash exemplify this stale, vacuous existence in several cuttingly satirical scenes. Reimagining the dialogue to parody millennial ennui, this production playfully toys with silence and bluntness, to moments of hilarious effect. This is what it looks like to be a figment of an old white man’s imagination.
The only room for male presence in this piece comes in the form of a spotlight on the dusty porcelain bust of the old white male, Anton Chekhov, sandwiched between successive blackouts. Indeed, amongst some comedically crafted lyrics, one phrase says what we’ve all been thinking for years: “Chekhov is the Patron Saint of Disappointment”.
The “vital plot points” are kept, in stark ridiculousness: the spinning top, the military drum, the deafening silence. As far as storytelling goes, the parallel with the classic Three Sisters ends there. RashDash reject the traditional narrative form, showing women as so much more than the vapid romantic leads that are written for them. This production transcends the neat tick boxes of plot. In it’s place: a cacophony of colour.
At a guess, I would say there are upwards of nine costume changes per person in this ninety-minute whirlwind. From poofy princess dresses, through Renaissance and 19th Century period pieces, to cheerleader uniforms and iconic Spice Girls outfits, no stereotype was left unturned or hit out at. The women unapologetically strip and change on stage, delivering a level of naturalism (or naturism) that ironically might have pleased Chekhov himself! Each costume change leads the production into a new chapter, which helps to form some semblance of order amongst the chaos.
By way of chapters, the stand-out moments throughout Three Sisters are undoubtedly the musical numbers. Music plays a huge part in the production, with each of the performers excelling across a range of genres. Chloe Rianna and Yoon-Ji Kim frame the show with atmospheric drums, synth and violin. Whilst the leading women each take to the spotlight: Becky Wilkie’s piano solo balances supreme skill with wonderful naivety; Helen Goalen unexpectedly matches a beautiful voice with punk ferocity; and Abbi Greenland’s belting vocal power delivers eloquently colloquial lyrics with humour and heart-wrenching soul. Should these women decide to hang up their costumes and wave goodbye to devised physical expression, they already make a convincingly fierce girlband.
In a deliciously articulate rap, RashDash deconstruct the play’s suffocating plot and the very nature of reviewing itself. I wanted to burn all of my notebooks along with my bra. But, conflicted, I still put pen to paper, in order to shout about the fervour of these fantastic women.
A review, in any traditional sense would be inappropriate and uninvited here (just look at the “feedback form” distributed in the programme!). RashDash take to the stage not to “act”, in the stifling scripted sense, but to find opportunities to express, innovate, comment, recreate and move.
I can do little more than to applaud this anarchic punk feminist musical montage of artistic chaos.
Three Sisters plays the the Royal Exchange Theatre until 19th May. For more information or to grab yourself some tickets to this unusual theatrical adventure, visit the website.