The strength of the women’s performances clarifies that the sisters rule their fading aristocratic home, but the end of their class privilege is signaled when Natásha instantly begins running the household after she marries their brother, Andréy (a soulful, befuddled, and finally furious Josh Hamilton). Chekhov invests in Natásha all the uncouth flailing of what he saw as the ascending middle-class. Her terrible French accent horrifies the sisters, who palpably dislike her, even before she begins reassigning their bedrooms so that her baby can have the house’s best air and light. She moves Ólga and Irína farther into the house’s lower regions, dismantling their power and their right to their own property. And, of course, one of Natásha’s last stated intentions is to cut down the trees that line the family estate which, as always in Chekhov, represent stability, history, and the privilege of nobility. The beginning of Natásha’s reign ends an era for Chekhov, with the aristocrats’ fall aided and abetted by an indolent military, represented in Three Sisters by the company of soldiers billeted with the family. The soldiers sit among the women, drinking, playing the piano, eating, and commenting with nonsensical self-importance on the non-events of the day.
Vershínin’s arrival, and his subsequent affair with Másha, propels the slender plot, and his departure, with the rest of the company of soldiers, marks its end. Peter Sarsgaard has a grand time with the pompous