Scott Thomas will play Masha, Burton Olga and Worrall Irina in Chekhov's classic drama about three women stuck in a Russian army outpost, dreaming about freedom, romance and Moscow. The rest of the accomplished cast includes Eric Sykes (Ferapont), Robert Bathurst (Vershinin), James Fleet (Kulygin), Douglas Hodge (Andrei), Sebastian Bates (Fedotik), Susannah Wise (Natasha), David Antrobus (Rode), Tom Beard (Solyony), David Burke (Chebutykin), Margery Mason (Anfisa).
Scott Thomas is best known for her work in films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, The English Patient, Angels and Insects, Bitter Moon, The Horse Whisperer and Gosford Park. She has also starred in a number of French screen and stage productions, having lived in Paris, where she studied drama, for much of her adult life.
Kate (daughter of Richard) Burton was nominated last year for a Tony Award for Hedda Gabler on Broadway, where her many other credits include The Elephant Man and The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Three Sisters marks her West End debut. Amongst Worrall's UK stage credits are RSC productions of The Tempest and The Merchant of Venice, while on television, she's been seen in Foyle's War and Judge John Deed.
Robert Bathurst, best known from TV's Cold Feet, has previously appeared on stage in Blakemore's production of Michael Frayn's Alarms and Excursions); comedian Eric Sykes was seen last year in the West End in Ray Cooney's Caught in the Net; James Fleet's credits include Charlotte Gray, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sense and Sensibility on screen and, on stage, The Late Middle Classes, Art and The Government Inspector; Douglas Hodge's many stage credits include most recently The Caretaker, Betrayal and Pericles.
The Australian-born director Blakemore - whose Broadway transfer of Kiss Me Kate won Evening Standard, Critics Circle and Whatsonstage.com Awards last year - was awarded an OBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours List this month. His other recent stage productions have included the National's Copenhagen (another multi award winner, on both sides of the Atlantic), Alarms and Excursions and Mr Peters' Connections.
Like Chekhov's other major plays The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull and Uncle Vanya, his Three Sisters, written in 1901, is regularly revived. Major UK productions have been seen in recent years at the West End's Whitehall Theatre (care of Dominic Dromgoole's Oxford Stage Company), at Richmond's Orange Tree and at Chichester Festival, while the National's artistic director-designate Nicholas Hytner has just announced that Katie Mitchell (who directed a Whatsonstage.com Award-nominated revival of Chekhov's Ivanov last autumn) will bring the play to the NT Lyttelton, in a new version by Nicholas Wright, later this year (See News, 23 Jan 2003).
The Playhouse production of Three Sisters is designed by Robin Don, with costumes by John Bright, lighting by Mark Henderson, sound by Paul Arditti and music by Richard Storry. It's produced by Howard Panter for the Ambassador Theatre Group, Elizabeth I McCann and Matthew Mitchell.
- by Terri Paddock