Review: Daughterhood 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Theatre

Daughterhood

ROUNDABOUT@Summerhall, v26

Times: various (ends 25 August, not 6, 10, 13, 20 ,24)

🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 Stars)

This is yet another excellent production by Paine’s Plough in co-production with Theatr Clwyd. Author Charley Miles’ world premiere is about the relationship between two sisters, Pauline and Rachel. It’s one of those plays which consists of an endless succession of vignettes moving backwards and forwards randomly in time, from which one does one’s best to build up a picture of what’s going on.

Pauline has stayed at home, looking after the girls’ father while Rachel seems to have some sort of high-flying parliamentary career. At first it seems that their mother is dead, but this later turns out not to be the case: what does seem clear is the intense animosity between the two women – vitriol flies as each accuses the other of a stream of faults and failings – everything wrong in each sister’s life is held to be the other’s fault.

The play is excellently done and is extremely uncomfortable to watch. Incidents of which one sister accuses the other get replayed from the other sister’s point of view, which, as you might expect, puts a completely different complexion on things. I kept hoping for some sort of resolution, some real communication, some moments of understanding – but they never really came, or if they did were so fleeting I never really registered them. Could their situation have been different? I wonder if either sister ever really thought about or saw the other except through their own personal tinted spectacles of prejudice: each suffered, but couldn’t reach out to the other to find some sort of solace in sharing with or caring for the other.

At times the play was confusing – it was easy enough to tell the sisters, Pauline and Rachel apart – one blonde, one brunette – but having one actor playing all the men in their lives – boyfriends, school teacher, university professor, hospital consultant, father, and goodness knows who else – made it hard to follow at times, even after the initial realisation β€œno, this isn’t the same [male] character as last time”. Names were sometimes given, but at others even those clues were absent…

It’s a magnificent feat of acting on the parts of Charlotte Bate, Charlotte O’Leary and Toyin Omari-Kinch [all the more amazing given that these three are appearing in the two other Paine’s Plough productions this Fringe]. There is much humour and an amazing amount of anger. The rest of the audience seemed really to enjoy it: I found it cut too deep. My family went in for stony silences rather than hurling abuse and recriminations – but neither my siblings nor these sisters ever learned how to work though our differences and show that we loved each other really…

Mary Woodward