Anyone who tends to experience an (involuntary) reluctance to go and see old, classical plays – like, say, Chekhov’s Three Sisters – should get their hands on a ticket for RashDash’s latest piece of work. A mixture of tantalising visuals, vibrant live music and hilarious physical and textual comedy, this show has it all.
The three women that make up RashDash, Abbi Greenland, Becky Wilkie and Helen Goalen, share the stage with percussionist Chloe Rianna and violinist and synth player Yoon-Ji Kim. The performance starts with these five women sitting in a 19th-century-looking room, in period costumes. It ends with them half-naked, half in glitter outfits, singing and rocking to a song about why we work. In between, a hell of a lot happens.
Trying to describe this play could never do it justice. It’s a rollercoaster of live music, spoken scenes, physical theatre and all-around craziness. Its joy lies in its messiness, but the underlying message throughout is clear: why are we still so obsessed with ‘classic’ plays by dead old white men, and particularly, with staging them in the classical way?
In RashDash’s version, the original narrative of Three Sisters is (very roughly) told through a 21st-century lens, combining current-day ‘millennial’ problems with the themes of isolation and boredom of the original script. Another big topic is the position of women in society and art, illustrated through witty songs like ‘Men Make Speeches’ (Why do you always say all the lines? Why do you always write all the plays?).
A poignant scene towards the end of the play sees Abbi Greenland reading out reviews of other productions of Three Sisters and switching out all the people mentioned for ‘MAN’ or ‘WOMAN’, demonstrating how many men are involved on the production side of theatre, and how many comments are made about the women’s looks rather than skills.
There are one or two songs too many in the middle of the performance, and some of the lyrics are lost due to their speedy pronunciation or the volume of the music. Nonetheless, the show has a constant daring energy, and the performers’ stage presence captivates throughout.
From breastfeeding a Chekhov bust to cheerleading his name, there seems to be absolutely nothing these actors shy away from. They are all highly skilled and multi-talented, singing, playing, dancing and acting their way through the night, with Abbi Greenland deserving a special mention for her fantastic singing voice. In combination with lavish, constantly changing costumes, humorous, matter-of-fact dialogue, colourful lighting and frenetic visuals, Three Sisters makes for an absurd and entertaining evening – but one with a message.
Merel van ‘t Hooft