ContemporaryDanceDramaLive Music/GigMusicReviewSouth West

Three Sisters – Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol

Words, music and performance by RashDash (after Chekhov)

Reviewer: Julia Beasley

It’s Chekhov, but not as you know it. Actually, it’s not Chekhov at all. Or perhaps it’s Chekhov torn into bits, mashed up, smeared thinly over a feminist diatribe against patriarchy, and then set to live music and dance.

RashDash imagines the original three Russian sisters Olga, Masha and Irina freed from their stultifyingly boring lives in a drab provincial town. The women actually start talking – and to each other. ‘We’re just figments of some old white guys’ imagination’ they complain, before exploding their uncensored thoughts and feelings through performance art. 

What the result lacks by way of plot, narrative and character development is compensated for in terms of sheer energy and crazed endeavour, as the five-strong female group rock, rap, sing, play, fight and strut their way through a series of crazy tableaux across time. Why should men traditionally have all the good lines? These women have a lot to say and play about the big questions of life – including sex, love, death, periods, babies, work, and how to live.

It’s philosophical but also very funny. Much of the time the three liberated sisters rampage round the stage in just their pants. Even undressing becomes an art form with a political point. By changing outfits openly on stage (crinolines to halter necks, Spice Girls get-ups, high school uniforms and even teddy bear outfits) they manage to de-fetishise both women’s clothing and nudity.

Chekhov might be turning in his grave, but who cares? Not Olga, Masha and Irina, who have found their voices and are never going to be quiet – or bored – again.

Runs until 16 June 2018 | Image: The Other Richard

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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