Theater: Joyless in Purgatory

The Three Sisters. If the Hemingway hero was the man to whom things happened, the Chekhov hero and heroine are people to whom nothing happens. His Sisters exist in a sad purgatory of might-have-beens and never-will-bes. Masha (Kim Stanley), married at 18 to a bureaucratic clod, alternately tongue-lashes him as a clownish bore and lapses broodily into tears. Irina (Shirley Knight) has made a hysterical religion of work. Olga (Geraldine Page) is a kind of involuntary nun of duty, serving joylessly as the local school headmistress. The cultured, well-educated sisters are too weak to demand life on their own terms, too...

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