THERE are more than 20 characters in Three Sisters, Anton Chekhov’s moving, witty drama written in 1900 while the playwright contended with tuberculosis, which would end his life four years later at the age of 44.

Though he didn’t realise at the time, his plays – especially Three Sisters, which confounded critics at the time – informed what’s often taken for granted in modern theatre: that actors attempt to recreate how people speak and interact with each other in everyday life. Though centring the titular women – three disaffected 20-somethings who long to replace the provincial humdrum of their lives with the glamour of Moscow – every character is important in Three Sisters, says Maria Oller, director of a new production of the play from Lung Ha, a theatre company for people with learning disabilities.

It’s a good fit for the multi-award-winning Edinburgh-based company, saved last month from savage cuts in a £2.6 million Creative Scotland rethink.

As well as staging a smaller-scale touring production, each year the company presents a bigger work with roles for the majority of its 25 actors.

“With these full-company shows we need to have a play where everybody is a part of it,” says Oller, director of Lung Ha for almost a decade. “In Three Sisters, there isn’t one lead; every character is important and the storyline kind of weaves around them.”

Oller continues: “Chekhov’s characters are larger-than-life, all big personalities, and there’s something there that really works for us as a company. There’s humour and tragedy; the hunger for life and for doing things; the hunger for learning and creating things. That’s the energy of his plays.”

Specifically adapted for the company by Adrian Osmond, Lung Ha’s Three Sisters also has strong Finnish connections. In addition to direction from Finland-born Oller, an original score by Anna-Karin Korhonen blends elements from traditional Russian and Finnish folk music. It will be performed live by three of her students from the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts in Helsinki.

The team from the world-renowned music school got in touch when they heard about the project, which has been in development for a few years.

Following Chekhov Shorts, a selection of Carol Rocamora’s plays inspired by the Russian writer’s short stories, the company subsequently workshopped elements from his theatrical work, with a view to staging a bigger production sometime in the future.

Considered a classic alongside The Seagull, Uncle Vanya and Chekhov’s final play, The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters was the work which most connected with the company, says Oller.

The sisters may long to escape the stale life bequeathed to them by their aristocratic father, but they seem to have little power over their lot. It is others who largely make the decisions that shape their lives. If only they could return to the Moscow of their youth, everything would be solved, they reason. “It can’t solve anything,” Oller says. “Moscow is not the same place it was. There’s questions there of our dreams about how we’d like our life to be, of whether we have to give up on our dreams or accept that they were better as just a dream.”

Sometimes dreams inspire us to make real-world life changes, sometimes they function as a way of avoiding reality and shirking difficult choices.

“The sisters are maybe not powerless; maybe they just don’t take the power,” Oller says. “And why is that? Do we use what power we have or do we just go along with what convention says we should do? We have so many more possibilities to shape our lives than in 1900 but are we brave enough to do that or just go along with what is expected? Things have changed a lot in some ways since then, but things are also the same.”

Mar 15 to 17, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 7.30pm, Mar 16 mat 2.30pm, £12 to £17, £9 and £10 concs. Tel: 0131 228 14014.

Mar 23 and Mar 24, Perth Theatre, 8pm, £11. Tel: 01738 621 031.

Mar 28, Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, 1.30pm, 7.30pm, £16.50, £12.50. 0141 429 0022.