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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
If ghosts could applaud, you'd hear it for this lovely production of Chekhov's Three Sisters, the debut of the new young Chalk Repertory Company. It gets a crystalline new translation by Susan Coyne whose credits include the delicious CBC series Slings and Arrows about the back-stage life of Canada's Shakespeare Festival.
The Chalk have made their mark in the Masonic Auditorium on the Cemetery grounds, whose Art Deco décor, chandeliers and polished floor do justice to the play's 19th century period. Director Larissa Kokernot deals well with the play's dramatic pacing and emotional content, though her decisions to use each corner of the large auditorium as an office or room made those sightlines invisible to some.> Set piece props and costumes work well, though the company is saddled with primitive lighting facilities, some of their own, some on site. The audience was seated on each side of the auditorium which had a raised stage at one end which is used for the family's dinner party.
Only in Los Angeles would you see the three Prozoroff sisters and their brother Andrei portrayed by Asian actors, Vershinin by a Latino and Solyony by an African-American. Jennifer Chang is the spark as Masha, with Aileen B. Cho bringing a touching frailty to the youngest Irina and Joy Osmanski ballast to the oldest Olga. Adam J. Smith brings a credible naturalism, slashed with fatalistic humor, to Baron Tuzenbach, who is in love with Irina. Owiso Odera memorably enlivens his rival Solyony's fury with animal quacks and barks.
Ricardo Antonio Chavira (Carlos on Desperate Housewives) plays the dashing Vershinin with thoughtful presence. Teri Reeves has an early vulnerability and developing nastiness as the vulgar bossy Natasha, wife of Andrei, played by Feodor Chin who subtly interprets his character's diminishment as the play goes on. Corey Brill lends a deft comic touch to Masha's hapless husband Kulygin and Tony Amendola plays Dr. Chebutykin with weary authority.
An auspicious start for a new company that's a long way from being buried!