Los Angeles Theater Review: TRACK 3 (Bootleg Theater)

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by Jesse David Corti on January 26, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles

RUSHIN’ RUSSIAN

Track 3 at the Bootleg Theater is a peculiar sort. Richard Alger’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s classic Three Sisters is better described as a transmogrification of the text. The play centers on sisters Olga, Masha, Irina, and their brother, Andrei. Dissatisfied with life in a provincial town, they all share a yearning to return to Moscow. Individually, they have dreams and desires of love and otherwise. However, disappointment, disillusion, and defeat meet them at every turn, and it is only at the end of the road when they come to terms with the cold, hard truth and walk away ruminating how best to deal with the rest of their lives.

Jess David Corti's Stage and Cinema review of TRACK 3 by Theatre Movement Bazaar at Bootleg Theater Los AngelesMr. Alger slices and dices Chekhov (characters removed, text updated) whittling down the languid two and a half hour Victorian era piece into a breezy, eighty-minute vaudevillian experience complete with song and dance. The production adheres to the journey of the three sisters and Andrei, but the pacing races like a stock car at the Indy 500. There is hardly a moment to catch your breath or you’ll miss a punchline or jibe; speech speeds quickly with deliberate, choreographed movement attached.

Theatre Movement Bazaar is no stranger to the wild adaptation. In fact, one of their earliest productions was a version of Three Sisters entitled Chekhov’s Sisters (also realized by the writer-director team of Richard Alger and Tina Kronis) where only the three sisters remain.

Kronis’ choreography is well-staged and agreeably executed. Alger’s lighting design is very bright, similar to a music hall vaudeville performance stage; his scenic design is sparse yet sufficient. The duo’s sound design is boisterous and lively: One very loud and entertaining moment happens when the ensemble breaks out into a Russian dance (they also explode into disco, accompanied by The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive”).

Jess David Corti's Stage and Cinema review of TRACK 3 by Theatre Movement Bazaar at Bootleg Theater Los AngelesKendra Chell, Dylan Jones, and Caitlyn Conlin are tremendous as the trio of Olga, Masha, and Irina, respectively; each of them is sharp and dynamic in their portrayals. Jesse Myers’ Tuzenbach is frenetic and anxious; the scenes between him and Irina are among the strongest in the show. Mark Skeens’ Andrei also has a skittish streak running through his performance; his simple card trick (now you see it—now it’s gone) is a pithy, effective image that deftly shows his gambling luck. David LM McIntyre’s Captain Solyony is forceful and cruelly sardonic. Mark Doerr lacks nuance as Colonel Vershinin; as such, the character is vacant and uninvolving. For a brief moment, the four men sing in the style of a barbershop quartet; their lovely sound is a smile-inducing surprise. As Andrei’s wife Natasha, Liz Vital’s deft physical comedy draws a lot of laughs, especially a very funny bit involving her hair and a green belt.

Jess David Corti's Stage and Cinema review of TRACK 3 by Theatre Movement Bazaar at Bootleg Theater Los AngelesThe last sequence in this show is fittingly bleak and pointed; the three sisters build a house out of teacups, saucers, books, and a fork to top it all off. A powerful image that symbolizes the sisters: delicate, pretty, slightly dull, barbed, bound, and piled together. Kronis’ vision here is flashy, kinetic, and jocular, but in spite of the ensemble’s exceptional stagecraft, Track 3 is more of a well-choreographed and -executed exercise in theatricality than a lyrical, resonant interpretation of the Russian classic; intellectually stimulating, but emotionally distant.

photos by Justin Zsebe

Track 3
Theatre Movement Bazaar at Bootleg Theater
scheduled to end on February 10, 2013
for tickets, visit http://www.BootlegTheater.org

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