You may not necessarily think of Anton Chekhov and Harlem in the same sentence but The Classical Theatre of Harlem will make you believe it is the most natural combination. In its latest production, “Three Sisters” they do so with the aid of some alum from “The Cosby Show” and “The Wire”, a dance legend and one of the stars of “American Gangster”. Sabrina Labeouf, Earle Hyman, Reg E. Cathey, Carmen de Lavallade, and Roger Guenveur Smith are so close you can reach out and touch them in the intimate space at Harlem Stage. But along with these heavy-hitters are some sisters who are just starting out their careers. But let’s just say they know how to bring the drama. And although this classic is all about Russia you’ll still see and feel the black experience at the heart of the performances.
Amanda Mason Warren, a recent graduate of Yale, had me riveted as the middle sister Masha. This sister showed frustration, anger and passion that comes with a dissatisfaction with life and a broken heart. Carmen Gill, on the other hand, projects light and hope as the younger Irina, until her dreams are continually altered by reality. LaBouef gives us mostly gravitas and an increasing world weariness as the elder sister, Olga. Although this play is called ‘Three Sisters” it is the fourth woman in the Provorof household who is bringing the fire. Daphne Gaines brings friction and a fierceness to her role as their sister-in-law, Natasha, a schemer and social climber who isn’t above using sex as a weapon. And veteran de Lavallade makes you forget that she is a dance legend in the way she inhabits Anfisa.
This two-hour plus drama is better than any reality show that has our attention. And the acting is good, I mean really good. If I were a casting agent i would hustle uptown pronto to see the talent the world has yet to meet. But even if you don’t live anywhere near New York, this is a reminder to check out theater in your town. Talent is not always found with the big budgets, the bright lights and ‘it girls” of the moment. It is sometimes buried like a hidden gem. It is up to us to nuture and support the greatness and beauty in our own midst.Read Also