Two Sisters ~ Upstairs At The Gatehouse

Two Sisters has one more performance to go at Upstairs At The Gatehouse Box Office – you can still book tickets for tomorrow night’s performance.

Star rating: ****

This two-hander explores the sibling relationship between sisters, Rika (Norma Cohen) and Edith (Anne Kavanagh). Set on a kibbutz in Israel, their story unravels during the lead up to Rika’s homeward bound journey to London.

Anne Kavanagh and Norma Cohen as the Two Sisters

Rika has been staying with Edith on the Kibbutz and by all accounts it seems that their relationship has been under some strain as they’ve spent so much time in one another’s company. The bickering pair are ‘breakfasting’ together and sniping at one another following an evening’s entertainment the night before, where Edith was allegedly flirting! 80 years of age and flirting, Rika can’t let it go and Edith sees no harm in it. Rika briefly lets go of her ‘bone’ and brightens at the thought of telly and biscuits, although she can’t help herself making a point about the size of Edith’s special biscuits. I’m sure this ‘banter’ will ring true for many siblings out there, the script for this piece is so well crafted by Louw, that every scene is entirely natural. It feels like we as the audience have a window into someone’s front room at home. The differences between the pair are highlighted in several intricate ways, too. There’s the fact that Rika has a daughter and a granddaughter, Janine whom she dotes on and has vast opinions on – and who Edith is also close to, however Edith has not been a mother in the biological sense. There’s Edith’s zest for living a full life versus Rika’s anxious and verging on depressive demeanour. Yet the sisters meet in the middle on several topics, which I felt surprised them as much as it surprised the audience. Their discovery that they share a common link causes ructions and devastation that it seems almost impossible to come back from. Never underestimate sisters, though!

The chemistry between Kavanagh and Cohen is edgy and real, there’s a raw quality to the way in which they play out their relationship which works superbly. The intensity is palpable at certain junctures and their dialogue is delivered sharply and with alacrity when necessary. The static set framed the action beautifully, no frills and exceedingly believable as a home on a Kibbutz.

Two Sisters has the ability to make you simultaneously laugh, gasp and cringe, an interesting journey with an engaging plot. If you’re able to catch this play before it finishes its current run, tomorrow – go!


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