While Peter Stein's high-profile staging of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull takes flight in Edinburgh this week (See News, 11 Aug 2003) and Steven Pimlott's revival of the same play beds down at the Chichester Festival (See Reviews), London gets its second summer round of the Russian master's Three Sisters.

The National Theatre production, in a new version by Nicholas Wright (author of Vincent in Brixton) directed by Katie Mitchell, opens at the NT Lyttelton tonight (12 August 2003, following previews from 2 August), following fast on the heels of Michael Blakemore's starry West End production, initially led by Kristin Scott-Thomas, ended its limited season at the Playhouse Theatre on 29 June 2003 (See News, 6 May 2003).

The National staging of the Russian family saga reunites Eve Best, Anna Maxwell Martin and Lucy Whybrow - who played three of the Bakunin sisters in Tom Stoppard's epic Russian trilogy, The Coast of Utopia, last year - as Masha, Irina and sister-in-law Natasha, respectively.

The accomplished cast also includes Lorraine Ashbourne as third Prozorov sister Olga, Dominic Rowan (who recently doubled up with Ralph Fiennes in The Talking Cure) as brother Andrey, and Ben Daniels (who returns to the National after his Olivier Award-winning turn in All My Sons and TV success in Cutting It) as Vershinin. They're joined by Thomas Arnold, Peter Eastland, Beth Fitzgerald, Hugh Futcher, Patrick Godfrey, Paul Hilton, Sean Jackson, Tim McMullan, Fiona Mason, Peter Needham, Antonia Pemberton and Angus Wright.

Like Chekhov's other major plays The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull and Uncle Vanya, his Three Sisters, written in 1901, is regularly revived. Other 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.

Mitchell's new production of Three Sisters is the first at the National since Laurence Olivier's celebrated staging in 1976. Last year, Mitchell won acclaim for her production of Chekhov's Ivanov, starring Owen Teale, in the NT Cottesloe.

- by Terri Paddock