sisterhood head

The Sisterhood

Belgrade Theatre B2

*****

A POOR – in every sense of the word – and puffed-up poet, Trissotin (Paul Trussell), provides the central character in Ranjit Bolt’s The Sisterhood; a clever adaption of Moliere’s Les Femmes Savantes.

Moliere is taking a sideswipe at marriage with, unusually, women in his sights. To provide context, the poet in Moliere’s time, the seventeenth century, was considered to be the highest-minded, best-educated, most likely to get the girl, chap around. Trissiton is simply tall.

Trissiton has been taken under the well-feathered wing of a family of high-achieving, intellectual women whose attitudes to men and marriage are about as diverse as is possible

Philaminte, the mother (Julia Watson) is a high-minded bully whose two eligible daughters are just as determined as her – but in different ways. Pretty and grounded Henriette (Vanessa Scholfield) wants to marry Clitandre (Joshua Miles) son of her father’s best friend and thoroughly good egg. Clever Armande (Katherine Manners) has been turned down by Clitandre and this is a bone of contention on which both sharpen their fighting wits.

Philaminte wants Henriette to marry the poet but here the battle lines are drawn as the girls’ father Chrysale (Peter Temple) and Uncle Artiste (Paul Hamilton) conspire against the mother for Henriette to get her way. They suspect that Trissiton’s motives are more pecuniary than passionate.

The first scene locks the background beautifully. The set is gorgeous, based on Karl Lagerfeld’s Paris flat c.1987 with double-height bookcases and elegant double doors, and the script is elegantly delivered throughout in rhyme!

The women of the house, led by Philaminte, are choreographed on to the set wearing their sharp 80’s suits to a selection of 80’s rock and pop standards continuing throughout, Rick Astley and T’Pau among them; remember them?

The maid Martine has just been sacked for using poor grammar, and while the father tries to argue her case (‘She can cook! I can’t eat adjectives!’) he is outgunned.

Vadius (Valentine Hanson), a poet, is announced and pronounces Trissiton’s poetry appalling, outdated and even plagiarised – but the women, including Aunt Belise (Joanna Roth) still insist on his merits. The dénouement is clever and unexpected, delivered to Billy Idol’s glorious What a Day for a White Wedding and the family united in jollification. Lovely. Directed by Hamish Glen, the family battle on to 20-02-16.

Jane Howard

02-02-16 

Contents page Belgrade Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre