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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Theatre Gigante’s Beautiful ‘Three Other Sisters’

Performance Review

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Three Other Sisters, the fine new work by Isabelle Kralj and Mark Anderson that opened last weekend, is beautifully composed and deeply felt. It was created and performed with the riveting actor/dancers Simone Ferro and Janet Lilly, musician Seth Warren-Crow and renowned Slovenian singer/songwriter Vlado Kreslin. If given an opportunity to develop through more than the three-night run afforded it, it could become a signature work for Theatre Gigante.

The piece opens with images of three women (Kralj, Ferro and Lilly) in identical old-fashioned dresses of gray, purple and red, motionless before Rick Graham’s white window frames and glowing sea-blue backdrop, under Nathan Booth’s good lighting, and accompanied by Warren-Crow’s electronic wood block tick-tock rhythm. Kreslin enters, representing the sailor from the Montenegrin tale that inspired the piece. He woos each sister wordlessly, leaves her visibly changed, then settles at the side of the stage and sings for the rest of the hour as each woman waits in vain for her three-timing, faithless lover. In the role of yearning balladeer, in a style that combines the emotional candor and intimacy of a great cabaret singer with the whiskey voice of a rock troubadour, Kreslin is indeed the troubled women’s soul mate.

Interestingly, the women’s obsession with their betrayer begins to seem sick; they are no longer tragic, just creepy, and they know it. “At what point,” Kralj’s character asks, “does a choice become an obvious mistake?” Funny episodes follow, including an extended, stylized crying jag. The best moments for me came unexpectedly: After taking us to disturbing places, the women sat lost in thought while Kreslin sang. It felt profoundly intimate and utterly real, and formed a shattering bond. We can “despair without despairing,” Kralj’s character says, meaning to learn to accept a shrunken fate. But the piece protests that.

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