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The Killing of Sister George

by on 24 June 2006

Passions Run High

The Killing of Sister George

by Frank Marcus

Q2 Players at the Alexandra Room, St Luke’s, Kew until 24th June

Review by Mark Aspen

The BBC’s former euphemism, “women in sensible shoes” would be a hyper-simplification of the complex characters in The Killing of Sister George.  Frank Marcus’s play, although not controversial as it was forty years ago, is no less powerful in the hands of as strong a cast as was seen in Q2 Players’ well studied production at the Alexandra Room.

An everyday tale of country folk: Sister George is a twee goody-goody, beloved by all …  …  the antithesis of June “George” Buckridge, the radio actress, Helen Smith’s warts-and-all portrait probed the psyche of this volcanic dominatrix, and of her violently passionate relationship with “Childie”, her live-in lesbian lover.  Daisy Brydon played a gentle but gutsy, feminine but feisty Childie, trapped by her loyalty to George.

The arrival of the BBC’s Mercy Croft significantly redraws this relationship, bringing the news that Sister George is to be “killed off” in a road accident.  Frances Billington’s Mercy oozed the art of the backhanded compliment: power dressed, she was Auntie Beeb personified.

As Childie defiantly asserts herself, George’s alcoholism reveals not only her explosive jealousy and misplaced pride, but also her insecurity.  The occult powers of Madame Xenia are consulted.  Sue Bell played the larger-than-life “psychometrist” with a balance that stayed on right side of caricature without losing the comedy.

Laurie Coombs and Joan Rundle’s precisely descriptive costumes and John Roebuck’s soft draped set enhanced director Edward Hayman’s remarkable production, which remains topical at a time when we repeatedly see the fickleness of celebrity status.

Mark Aspen, June 2006

From → Drama, Q2

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