This play (which my pal, Alice, cutely described as an “older chick flick”) lets us in on twenty-four hours in the life of two senior citizen sisters in Israel. Because of my own very depressing relationship with my older sister, I may not exactly be the best person to review this sobering play. I’m afraid it made me space-out several times, reminding me of bad times that I’ve gone through with her, so I didn’t quite get every nuance of the scenario.
But maybe that’s the reaction that Two Sisters is supposed to elicit from audience members, to make them think about familial relationships. And, if so, it worked!
I do have to tell you something, that could have definitely shaded my experience at Theatre 40 on opening night, through no fault of theirs. I grew-up thinking that a sister was someone who was meant to be mean to you and get you into trouble, not someone to share secrets with, and with whom to exchange thoughts and dreams and experiences. So, when I even hear the word, I always feel a twinge of sadness.
But enough about my real-life version of Two Sisters. Let’s discuss the original play.
Alice pointed-out that it’s a treatise on one way in which “siblings operate,” and that it “sheds light on how people communicate on that level.” And it accomplishes all that in just one act, of only about an hour and a half!
I have to be honest and say that it is a tad depressing, while also being humorous. It made both of us worry about getting that old. The sisters portrayed are in their seventies, which isn’t that old. I have a few pals even more senior than these two characters, and their lives seem fuller and sunnier and more normal than what we saw portrayed on stage. We wanted to ask the mainly-that-age opening night crowd if that’s what life is really like at that age, but, if the answer had been “yes,” we didn’t really want to know!
We did see both actresses, Leda Siskind and Sharron Shayne, at the post-show reception, (which I have to laud, by the way, for always being so generous and sumptuous,) and they both appeared to be much more vibrant and full-of-life than their characters, so that cheered us a bit.
There is one very confusing fundamental aspect of the play, though—the sisters have very different accents! (On purpose.) The one who lives in Israel sounds sort-of German, and the one who lives in New York has a Brooklyn accent. They both appear a bit forced, so I’m sure those are acting or directing choices, and not how the women sound in real life. I assumed the play would explain that discrepancy, but it did not. The sisters keep mentioning things they did together as teen-agers, so they didn’t grow-up in different countries. And it’s basically a known fact that accents are set by the age of fifteen, so that part of the play needs to be explained in the writing. (I thought it was going to turn-out to be something to do with the Holocaust, but it appears I was wrong. If the women had been teens during World War II, they would have had to be different ages in 1996, when this play takes place, I think. And at least one of them would have had to mention it, too.)
But, as always, I was mad about the wonderful set by Jeff G. Rack. I don’t know how that guy keeps coming up with all these spot-on designs, production after production. And they’re all so different from each other. For Two Sisters, I was mesmerized by the featured appointments, which were perfection. One can’t help but notice the big wall clock in the center of the action; it provides a very clever touch from the get-go.