Sister (4 Stars)

Sister by Born Mad
Ovalhouse Theatre, Tues 6th to Sat 10th Sept, 2016
Tickets: Click Here
Review by Richard Lambert, 4 Stars ****

The Producer says:
“Mira was separated from her sisters for 15 years during the civil war in Algeria. Jessica and Annabel used to tell each other everything. And Tara? Well, she’s a bit of a pyromaniac…

Sister is an outpouring of memories – some tender, some comic, and others painful and raw. 

Foley art and stark verbatim text meet Alex Groves’ expansive electronic music to create this bold new production which gets right to the core of family life.

Born Mad is a cutting-edge music theatre company based in London. We tell unusual stories in unusual ways, fusing ethereal electronics, soaring vocal lines and bold visuals. We are a collective of composers, directors, singers, dancers and designers who work across art forms to explore the unexpected”.

With 2 performers creating Sound Effects using everyday objects the performance started fairly low key in a style reminiscent of a radio play. However using Recording Loop Technology the spoken words, sounds effects created and notes sung we soon build to a cacophony of chatter and musical composition inter-tangled and rhythmic. With operatic shades to their vocal tones Daisy Brown and Nia Coleman enact scenes of sisterhood from rivalry to love to togetherness. Impressive multi-talented performance from both. It has to be said that the a capella singing was so  beautiful with vocal skills and pitch to die for!

The Ovalhouse Theatre is black box. The Set Design (Georgia de Grey) resembling the Last Supper with Sound Effect materials laid out as place settings for the Sound Effects.

Sister, Born Mad, Ovalhouse, Copyright Ludovic Des Cognets (1) Sister, Born Mad, Ovalhouse, Copyright Ludovic Des Cognets (2)

The sourrounding space Ben Jacobs filled with lighting fixtures. There are lights from all directions – the sides, the top, the rear, underneath, the side shins…with a bold stark colour palette that creates plenty of variety and shape. The performance space expanding and contracting to fit the mood with always just the right amount of facial light. Sensitive and bold in equal measures.

Sister, Born Mad, Ovalhouse, Copyright Ludovic Des Cognets (6) Sister, Born Mad, Ovalhouse , Copyright Ludovic Des Cognets (5)

The unseen 3rd performer in the piece deserving of mention must be the Composer who also operates the Sound. Alex Groves in enormous collaboration with the Performers and team is live sampling the Sounds and then playing them back as a loop perfectly on cue to create a build on build depth. This can only be achieved with a lot of experimentation, a lot of rehearsals, and a truly focussed operator during the show.

With Sound such an important ingredient to the show it was a shame that the Output of this incredible mix was piped through simple speakers without any image location in the programming. This simple but vital component was lacking.

Sister, Born Mad, Ovalhouse, Copyright Ludovic Des Cognets (4)

Ignore the confusing marketting spiel just go see this show – it’s different, it’s talented, it’s slick, it’s impressive on so many levels and, most importantly, you’ll enjoy it!