Moscow still fascinates. But it took on mythical aspects for the fictional Prozorov sisters.

Fenix Theatre has mounted a production of Anton Chekhov’s 1900 play “Three Sisters” for its residency in Deering Oaks park this year. And those Russian young ladies, as ever, lament being stuck in the provinces while those big city folks have all the fun.

The well-educated and relatively well-to-do Prozorovs and their military and civilian friends spend a lot of time at a country estate articulating their boredom and discontent as they survey the disappointments in their lives and loves. Changing times, new philosophies and festering class divides only add to their misery.

It might sound dreary, but fine writing and distinctive performances in this production make it a compelling theatrical experience.

Reba Short, Casey Turner and Hannah Daly play the sisters Olga, Masha and Irina, respectively. Working together, in some of the most touching moments, they establish their playful, sisterly bonds as they try to hold tight to the vestiges of their youthful dreams. The imposing discontents of their adulthood confirm the tragic element that powers this seminal play of the modern era.

Short’s matronly Olga confesses her desire for even a loveless marriage while Turner’s black-clad Masha seeks a release from mourning her fate. Daly’s still-maturing Irina may be retracing their steps toward unappealing compromise.

The two-hour production, performed without intermission on and around the band shell at Deering Oaks, introduces 10 more characters.

Rob Cameron’s Vershinin puts forth a sort of desperate best case for them all before turning up the illicit heat with Masha. Kevin O’Leary adds a comic touch as Masha’s husband, Kulygin, who has an eye for Olga. Joe Bearor’s Tuzenbach, in unrequited love with Irina, reveals himself as a relative innocent among restless egotists.

Casey Turner, Reba Short and Hannah Daly play the sisters Masha, Olga, and Irina, respectively, the Fenix Theatre’s production of “Three Sisters.” Photo by Matthew Delamater, courtesy of Fenix Theatre Company

Peter Brown, as the Prozorov brother, Andrei, frets and suffers under the rule of his feisty commoner wife, Natasha, played by Heather Elizabeth Irish as a storm always threatening to strike. His regrets are aired emotionally while the dour observations of Dr. Chebutykin, played with a weary authority by Paul Haley, chill the air.

Sean Ramey adds menace as the off-kilter Solyeny who has eyes for Irina, and Grace Bauer endures much arrogance in her role as servant Anfisa. Megan Tripaldi and Ray Davis Murdoch Curry round out the cast as musical soldiers.

Director Tess Van Horn employs a movement scheme that keeps the action dynamic as performers enter and exit from the four corners of the performance area. Happily, a good deal of the dialogue is audibly delivered at audience level, in front of the stage.

Minimal changes to the period costumes mark the passage of years between the first and last of the four contiguous acts. Bits of string and vocal music add to the lyrical undertow of the writing. Subtle lights come up as the sun sets on these memorable Russian characters.

Note: Those averse to an evening in the Oaks can catch a one-time performance in Congress Square Park on July 29.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.