Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

“Play Rings With Emotional Truth"

Wales at Edinburgh Fringe

Daughterhood- Theatr Clwyd & Paines Plough , Roundabout @ Summerhall , August 14, 2019
Wales at Edinburgh Fringe by Daughterhood- Theatr Clwyd & Paines Plough Theatr Clwyd repeats its successful partnership and formula of the last two years. It works.

“A lovely piece of theatre in my favourite Fringe venue” runs a line in the Bouquets and Brickbats review. I was at the same venue for six shows in 2018 and would not disagree.

From Bouquets and Brickbats

“Charlotte O’Leary is back, this time playing Rachel, a Little-Miss-Sunshine younger sister with an exciting job in London. Her sister Pauline (Charlotte Bate), who’s nine years older, still lives at home, caring for their disabled father, growing steadily more miserable as life passes her by. “Daughterhood” is an examination of their relationship, of duty and fairness and doing the right thing.

“It’s brutal: Pauline is stuck; she can’t find a way out. Someone has to look after Dad. Bate exudes despair, her face locked in a silent scream; it’s a stellar performance. Rachel cares too, but she’s busy lobbying parliament for access to better medication; she’s not there, clearing up the shit. When she does visit, Pauline’s resentment bubbles over, and they find themselves trapped in an endless argument, repeated ad nauseam each time they meet.

“O’Leary portrays Rachel as sparky and likeable, her energy and sense of purpose a stark reminder to Pauline of what she could have had. The dynamic between the two is compelling; they’re on opposite sides but I’m rooting for both of them.”

From the Guardian

“Daughterhood is about what it means to be a sister. In a nonlinear sequence of scenes, Miles shows us snapshots from Paul and Rachel’s lives. We first see them in adulthood, strained and resentful: the one who left and the one who stayed. As we dart about in time, we get glimpses of their pasts as children, as teenagers, as young adults full of aspirations. Men (all played by Toyin Omari-Kinch) move in and out of their lives, but the sisters remain the focus.

“The restless movement back and forward forces us to piece things together for ourselves and question our initial impressions. Is Rachel really the selfish, attention-seeking younger sibling she seems to be? Did Paul have any option but to shoulder the burden of caring? We see the situation from multiple perspectives, avoiding simple conclusions.

“Miles sharply observes the complex, envy-laced relationship between siblings. To Rachel, Paul is the picture of perfection she can never live up to; in Paul’s eyes, Rachel’s life is flawless and carefree. As the two sisters, Charlotte Bate and Charlotte O’Leary subtly suggest the heavy weight of shared history. As they pace around the small circular space of the Roundabout, they keep being tugged back to one another, connected by an invisible but tangible bond.”

From Exeunt

“At the start of the play, Pauline (Charlotte Bate) grudgingly welcomes her sister home for a flying visit. Bate, dressed in a drab oversized jumper, is folded in on herself, worn down by disappointment. She has watched her options narrow as her sister claimed the opportunities – education, an exciting career – that she considers rightfully hers. In contrast, Charlotte O’Leary fizzes with energy as Rachel, full of grand schemes to campaign for policy change and optimise their father’s care – easy for her, when she does not have to manage it on a day to day level, as Pauline points out. They have become stuck in the roles assigned to them in jest as children: Pauline as ‘Little Miss Perfect’ and Rachel as ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. Both feel a sense of pressure in the comparison. Both sisters are envious of the other.

“The structure of the play teases out how they ended up in this situation through flashbacks rather than moving forwards (it took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to work out that the scenes were not proceeding in chronological order). The play excavates their relationship, slowly revealing why the characters are the way they are. Pauline wants to isolate the moment that she and Rachel had a discussion where they decided that Rachel would take her turn at caring for their dad. The moment they made a contract. The moment when Rachel broke it. However, no matter how hard she tries to grasp it, that moment slips away. Somehow they have slipped into these unbalanced roles, an unbalanced division of labour that has come to seem inevitable and therefore unchangeable. In Daughterhood, caring is shown to have a human cost.

“...Miles’ play rings with emotional truth in capturing the equivocal nature of a sisterly relationship: the antagonism, the silliness, the fierce love (brought out in Pauline’s unexpected virtuosic monologue about a beached whale)”

Reviews, cited,with thanks, can be read in full at:

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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