We are Three Sisters
By Blake Morrison
The Lowry, 20 September 2011
If you have some familiarity with the Brontes’ lives and works, and with Chekhov’s Three Sisters also, you will definitely get the max out of Blake Morrison’s play.
Your appreciation of the curate’s speculations concerning the form that future life will take is definitely enhanced by a knowledge of Chekhov’s play, for example, as will be the fate of Tabby, the Brontes’ servant. So too you’ll enjoy the very end, where instead of Moscow the sisters look to London, their soon to be published novels and posterity for their salvation.
Then, on another tack, there is Branwell, who like Rochester’s wife in Jane Eyre almost dies by setting himself and the parsonage alight.
However, it would be tedious to enumerate all the various echoes and allusions.
What I liked most about Morrison’s play was the character of the Doctor, played by the excellent John Branwell, a plain-speaking man caught in the headlights of a deep emotion, and the empathy for Tabby, the virtue-bejewelled Eileen O’Brien. A treasure and a half, she is.
There is also Emily, the true genius of the litter, who is given to making gloomy, Gothic pronouncements. They are a shaft of moonlight, these utterances, awry yet disquietingly illuminating.