Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 8, 2016

sister play

Chester Theatre Company, Chester, MA
through August 14, 2016
by Mary Fernandez-Sierra

There’s lots of fine theatre happening in the Berkshires this summer, but “sister play” at Chester Theatre needs to be top on everyone’s list.

Charming, persuasive, skillfully acted and staged, theatregoers will enjoy watching four fine performers steal the show, all at the same time.
A glimpse of the plot: Two sisters join up at the lonesome Cape Cod home of their deceased and rather famous writer father. Anna, the older sister, wants to mother her younger and somewhat wilder sibling Lilly, and keep her from harm. Anna’s husband Malcolm, a writer himself, is also in attendance. He holds the duo together, quite cleverly with wit and wisdom, until Gentleman Caller William appears. William woos Lilly with his own brand of worldly wisdom; but the big question is, will she succumb to his charms, though Sister Anna disapproves?

Anna, portrayed by Tara Franklin, is the totally believable and nurturing, nervous sister. Her travails and nearly savage will to protect Lilly are fiercely and sincerely enacted. She gives extraordinary energy and truth to the role. Lovely Lilly is stunningly performed by Therese Plaehn. (She introduces herself to hopeful beau William, saying: ‘I’m Lilly.’ William responds: ‘I’m not surprised.’) Neither is the audience; this actress is winning and wonderful from the word go.

Justin Campbell brings just the right level of charm and on-the-street sagacity to the role of William. He engages the audience with simplicity and sincerity, and hits all kinds of emotional chords with straight-shot delivery. James Barry is merry and marvelous as Malcolm, the husband of Anna. It is a joy to hear him deliver long monologues that he makes short. His superb timing, as well as the touching tenderness he shows for his wife and sister-in-law, make this play’s world go ‘round.

Add to the fabulous John Kolvenbach script: stunning scenery designed by David Towlun, beautiful costumes by Elizabeth Pangburn, and lovely lighting by Lara Dubin. Some nice musical touches were created, too, by sound designer James McNamara. Daniel Elihu Kramer put all the elements together to create some kind of wonderful theatre... bravo to all!