The last time I saw two productions of “Three Sisters” back to back was seven years ago in New York City, when the Brooklyn Academy of Music hosted a memorable Russian-language production courtesy of the 100 year-old Moscow Art Theatre while a Lower East Side storefront ensemble offered an ambitious but poorly executed modern dress version. History more or less repeats itself via two divergent productions currently on the Chicago boards. Unlike Strawdog Theatre’s polished, delicately observed production (see separate listing), Livewire’s contemporary crack at Chekhov’s masterpiece—it’s not only modern dress but also “like, totally” modern in its sensibilities—is beset with the typical missteps of amateurs attempting Chekhov: a ponderous pace; self-indulgent speechifying, histrionics; audacious choices but with little textual support and/or psychological motivation. Robert Tenges, a respected Chicago playwright whose writing is known for its economy of dialogue, lyricism and rich subtext, here produces a crude adaptation devoid of poetry but packed with potty-mouthed pronouncements, as if substituting expletives for emotions would automatically imbue this “Three Sisters” with the urgency it desperately needs. Disappointing. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
Livewire Theater at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church, 925 W. Diversey, (773) 412-8089. Thu – Sat 8pm/Sun 4pm, 10/30 & 11/06 4pm & 7pm (no perfs 11/4th & 5th), $10 – $12 Through Nov 13th.