I once read that Shaw had complimented Chekhov on his observation that a character such as Hedda Gabler—in the real world—would have been tragic if she hadn’t pulled the trigger in the end. This perspicacious insight into human nature clearly informed “Three Sisters, ” Chekhov’s classic tale of—simply put—people capable of escaping their humdrum existence with the purchase of a train ticket yet who never make it past the driveway. Under the helm of discriminating director Kimberly Senior, Strawdog Theatre’s beautifully acted and beautiful-to-look-at revival never loses sight of the play’s universal theme of emotional stagnation in lieu of simple self-assertion. And it brims with moments of palpable poignancy and humor ensuring a strong Chekhovian mix of ineffable mirth and melancholy. Doe-eyed Irina’s joyous yet desperate leaps into the lap of surrogate father, Chebutykin; Masha’s lounging on the floor that belies her languid irritation; Tuzenbach’s humorous then verging-on-volatile gestures as physical manifestations of unrequited love, to name a few. Senior’s tight visual and psychological focus on life’s recognizable minutiae and her excellent ensemble’s interesting choices (traditionally bookish and ineffectual Kulygin here is a monstrous control freak like I have never witnessed before) ensure that Chekhov’s theatrical cri de cœur remains a haunting, moving and ultimately sympathetic sound. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway, (773) 528-9696. Fri – Sat 8pm/Sun 7pm, $15 – $20 Through Nov 19.