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Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Review
by Les Gutman
Martha was her father's daughter; Mary, her mother's. It was, to hear them tell it, about as dysfunctional a division as one could imagine. And not surprisingly, it mimics a basic chasm between the parents. That their father "strayed" is also not a shocker, nor is the fact that home life, such as it was, only got worse after local gossip in their small Irish town in the 1950's made the obvious official. They became "a family, isolated by bitterness".
Martha, celebrating her 70th birthday on the day we meet her, got the short end of the stick, both because she was the less accomplished of the two (she spent her life working in the local shop, Mary went away to teach school in Dublin), and also because "her" parent died early. Martha spent her remaining childhood essentially as an orphan, ignored at best and degraded at worst by her mother as attention and praise were showered on "Holy Mary". There were scant men in Martha's life, and the one that mattered she had to share, as it turns out, with her sister. Martha and Mary's relationship didn't improve as it might have after their mother's death, and this is how they lived.
Despite Ms. Manahan's efforts -- this play was written especially for her -- Sisters never really redeems itself artistically. Whatever one might think of other monologue-driven Irish plays like Conor McPherson's The Weir, St. Nicholas, This Lime Tree Bower and The Good Thief, Declan Hassett's play doesn't hold a candle to them in its writing or story-telling. There are some unexpected twists along the way, but in the end, it's neither a particularly insightful examination of family mechanics nor a worthy vehicle for this double character study. Michael Scott's direction neither enhances nor diminishes the material.
The simple set serves its purpose well, and the lighting (not credited) is perhaps even more effective. The costumes aid in creating an immediate distinction between the two woman Manahan portrays.
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by our editor.
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