- Anton Chekhov's poignant drama of lost illusions andthwarted hopes. It was first presented in 1901 at the Moscow ArtTheatre; the cast included Chekhov's actress wife, Olga Knipper-Chekhova,and Stanislavsky, who also directed. The play was not seenin London until 1926. A highly acclaimed modern production was PeterAshmore's 1951 version, starring Ralph Richardson and Margaret Leighton.In 1991 the sisters were played for the first time by three membersof the same family - Vanessa Redgrave, her sister Lynn,and Vanessa's daughter Natasha Richardson.
The story concerns the three Prozorov sisters, Olga, Masha,and Irina, who live a dreary provincial life with their brother ina large country house in the north of Russia. All three reminiscewistfully about their happy childhood in Moscow and talk of the greatday when they will return. The arrival of a military unit seems tooffer a way out of their constricted existence, but the lieutenantIrina hopes to marry is killed in a duel and Masha's love affair witha married officer ends when the troops move on. Meanwhile Olga ispromoted to headmistress of the local school and abandons her dreamof moving to Moscow. Despite the failure of all their hopes, the sistersface the future with determination.Irina A time will come when people will understandwhat it was all for, what the purpose was of all this suffering, andwhat was hidden from us will be hidden no more. In the meantime, though,we have to live...