The Tyler Sisters: ★★★★ from The Arts Desk

Posted on 9 January 2020.

Posted in: Hampstead Downstairs

The Tyler Sisters: ★★★★ from The Arts Desk

The Tyler Sisters, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs review – raucous celebration of sisterhood

Laura De Lisle, the arts desk

'The Tyler sisters start as they mean to go on: bickering. Middle sister Gail (Bryony Hannah) has come home from uni to find that youngest Katrina (Angela Griffin) has stolen her room. “What about Maddy’s? Why didn’t you take that?” Gail snaps. “She’s in it,” Katrina points out. “I am in it, to be fair,” confirms eldest Maddy (Caroline Faber), trying her best not to take sides. “I am actually in it.”

A traditional family drama might have maintained this dynamic throughout – so often in plays and television series, we see the same feuds arising between the same siblings in later life – even as the sisters have become grown women by the end of this lovely new play, premiering at the Hampstead Downstairs. Writer Alexandra Wood and director Abigail Graham plot a different course: allegiances shift, old rivalries are abandoned and taken up again. The marketing blurb refers to the “deep and unruly waters of sisterhood,” reflected in Naomi Kuyck-Cohen’s deceptively simple set: blue paint laps at the walls, dotted here and there with glow-in-the-dark stars.'

'Griffin is equally convincing early, as a bratty teenager, and later, as a witty-yet-vulnerable single mum. Her suggestions for the sisters revenge on Gail’s cheating boyfriend are a highlight: “I’ve got a whole list. They might not be original ideas, but if it gets the job done, what’s it matter?” Hannah... hits her stride – literally, zooming around the stage on bright purple roller skates. Faber makes quiet Maddy’s inevitable explosion devastating. But like real sisters, all three are best, and most plausible as siblings, when they’re bouncing off each other. A rousing karaoke performance of the Backstreet Boys I Want It That Way is the most fun I've had in ages.' 

'...what this play has, more than anything, is life.'

To read the full review visit The Arts Desk online here.

The Tyler Sisters runs Downstairs until 18 January. 

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