The Killing of Sister George

I am ashamed to say that, until yesterday, I had never seen The Killing of Sister George.  I don’t know why – the opportunity had never arisen, I suppose.  But the Artful Theatre production of the play at the Eel Brook (fabulous name!) in the New King’s Road SW6 was well-worth waiting for.

I arrived twenty minutes of so before the start to find a rather noisy charity auction going on in the pub which forms the ground-floor of the theatre building.  But producer Justin Savage was very assuring that the auction would end at 3pm, which was when the curtain was due to go up.  And it did.

The set was simple and effective; little touches here and there created the 1960s beautifully, although the play itself could have been set in almost any decade since, even the present day, with our ever-increasing obsession with celebrity and the killing-off of favourite soap characters.  It is a fabulous vehicle for female actors – I can’t understand why it isn’t being performed continually throughout the country.  Or the world!  I found myself mentally  adapting and staging it in Antigua on the 22 bus going back to Sloan Square – but I digress!

Each actor was strong and confident in their role and I found my sympathy frequently veering from one character to the other in the space of seconds.  Sioned Jones beautifully portrayed the ‘schizophrenia’ of June/George showing how the lines between the actor and the character become completely blurred.  She slipped into George with ease and together with Mrs Mercy Croft, a delightful, middle-class Face of the BBC (played to perfection by Sarah Shelton) brought the radio soap Applehurst alive for us.  June was positively vile to Childie, but as the play progressed, Childie turns out to be shallow and dislikeable and all credit to Briony Rawle for making her totally believable.  And popping in and out throughout is the colourful, funny, eccentric clairvoyant Madame Xenia.  Janet Amsden, who I worked with briefly recently on a pilot, was outstanding in this role.

It was theatre as I enjoy it and I thoroughly recommend this show.  It’s on until  21st November.

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