Nobody’s Business Theatre and playwright/director Johnnie Walker have a remarkably high pedigree in this city’s independent theatre circles. The company took the summer theatre festival circuit by storm in 2010 with their plays A Maude-Lynne Evening at the Toronto Fringe Festival and Redheaded Stepchild at SummerWorks that year.
It’s no surprise that several writers here at Mooney on Theatre clamored over the chance to see their latest offering, The Other Three Sisters. The play looks at the complex relationships between four siblings; sisters Gillian (Jamie Arfin), Jordana (Morgan Norwich), Kris (Alexandra Parravano) and their brother Rowan (Julian De Zotti), set against the backdrop of their crumbling suburban family home in Etobicoke.
On the anniversary of their father’s death the siblings find out that their mother has also left them. Their mother’s abandonment leads them back to living in their parents’ suburban house and causes a host of changes in their lives.
Increasingly neurotic college instructor Jordana, moves back in and assumes the role of homemaker, TV actress Gillian moves back in after the cancellation of her sci-fi series and several botched plastic surgery procedures, younger sister Kris transforms from a suburban geek to an avant-garde performance artist and brother Rowan just continues to drift in and out.
Returning to the house they grew up in forces the siblings to unearth childhood traumas and come to terms with the resulting scars that manifest themselves in unexpected ways in adulthood. Tension rises as layers of the siblings’ relationships are peeled back and suppressed memories surface and build toward a surprising twist.
The dialogue is crisp and the tone stays light even as the script heads into weightier territory in the second half. The show clips along at a good pace and the siblings’ interactions make for many laugh-out-loud moments.
Walker’s script is funny and full of little witticisms and larger truths about family dynamics and the experience of growing up in the suburbs.
Maybe it’s because I have a sibling, a bit of a weird family dynamic and also made the migration out of suburbia but there were many times when the show felt strangely familiar.
We all have ghosts from our past that continue to haunt us and our families leave indelible imprints on our lives in ways we would have never conceived even when they’re no longer with us. The Other Three Sisters reminds us that we all struggle to deal with our baggage from our upbringings.
- The Other Three Sisters plays at Venue 7, St. Vlad’s Theatre (620 Spadina Ave.)
- Show times: July 05 06:30 PM, July 06 11:00 PM, July 08 09:15 PM, July 10 02:45 PM, July 12 05:15 PM, July 13 09:45 PM, July 14 07:00 PM
- All individual Fringe tickets are $10 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows
– Photo of Morgan Norwich, Julian De Zotti, Jamie Arfin, and Alexandra Parravano by Greg Wong.