12 September 2021 (released)
12 September 2021
It's 25 years since Hampstead theatre produced the original production of this play by Shelagh Stephenson , then an emerging writer. After much success globally, it returns as one of the season of 'Originals '. It's theme of how much we can trust our memories and our siblings is as relevant now as it was then. However, its structure and plot seem a little at odds with current sensitivities.
This is not to belittle and the play or the excellent performances , but there are inconsistencies that affect the way the play comes across. In Alice Hamilton's production both the comedy and the pathos are heightened in equal measures, making the switches that happen throughout, seem sudden and at times out of character. There are the inconsistencies that have always been there, the arrival of the Frank (Kulvinder Ghir) through a door no one has answered, and a coffin that appear to arrive defying the snow storm that is raging outside. In comedy/farce this might be more acceptable but it a comedy/drama it jars.
As the three sisters reunited for their mother's funeral Teresa (Lucy Black), Mary (Laura Rogers) and Catherine (Carolina Main) inhabit their characters to absolute perfection. With great pace we see the gulfs between them, and as the Whisky and 'Pot' is shared around their memories become a mixture of commonality but more importantly competition and revelation. These are three sisters who each in their way have massive flaws and agree on very little. Into this mayhem stumbles Mike played with troubled stillness by Adam James as Mary's married lover and TV Doctor. Followed by the much maligned husband of Teresa, Frank played by Kulvinder Ghir, who has some of the funniest lines in the play. Completing the cast is Lizzy McInnerny as Vi the dead Mother. Having died of Alzheimer's she appears to Mary alone. Now restored to a time where her memory and her looks where complete, she dominates and belittles any love she had for her daughters and adds much to the pathos of the play.
The action takes place in Vi's bedroom and Anna Reid has designed a chintzy room that in one way is naturalistic, but with its sweeping panoramic skyline above, and numerous mirrored wardrobes, distracts as you watch distorted images of the characters dance across your vision.
This is undoubtedly an enjoyable evening's entertainment, but somehow never quite fulfils its promise. As Shelagh Stephenson herself says, 'Who are we when it goes? We are all just a collection of Memories... Most of them questionable?' Maybe the memory of the play's past productions is haunting this one? Or maybe that's false too?