Review: The Tyler Sisters, at Hampstead Theatre
10 January, 2020 — By Howard Loxton
Bryony Hannah, Caroline Faber and Angela Griffin in The Tyler Sisters. Photo: Robert Day
ALEXANDRA Wood’s play compresses 40 years into less than two hours as it presents the relationship between the three Tyler sisters forwards from 1990.
Forty scenes give us a glimpse of their lives that may last for five closely argued minutes or just a moment with no dialogue; each providing an insight into their current situation as individuals and as family.
Abigail Graham’s simply mounted production moves at speed. Each scene segues into the next to the sound of a chord and a video screen that names year and place: locations that range from their various homes to a Mediterranean beach, karaoke booth, campsite, maternity ward, churchyard, ladies’ loo, rugby pitch, Stonehenge car park or the top of Ben Nevis.
The incidental information in their conversations allows the audience to catch up on events outside these brief episodes. Talented offspring, difficult husbands, lesbian lovers, career success, and domestic failure – we hear about them all.
The Tyler Sisters is frequently funny, often moving and beautifully played by Caroline Faber as the staid Maddy, carrying the responsibilities of being the eldest sister, Angela Griffin as Katrina, the outspoken and confident youngest, and Bryony Hannah as Gail, 16 when the play starts.
In looks and personality the sisters are very different and their lives take different paths but the actresses make them totally believable as siblings, not least because their voices sound as though they are from the same place.
Things start with a row between Gail and Katrina and tensions between the three of them may break their bonding but never beyond mending. Following the fluctuations in the sisters’ relationship is fascinating.
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