13th Jul2014

The Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Theatre

by timbaros

images-205Five sisters make up The Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is now playing at The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn.

India, Willow, Gemma, Garden and Mouse are their names, and they’re all very beautiful women. Some of them lead a charmed life, and a couple of them don’t. Coming from a wealthy and famous family (though we are not told exactly how wealthy and what they’re famous for), they all live on that island called Manhattan. Gemma (Charlotte Parry) is the wealthiest of the sisters, and everywhere she goes so does her maid/p.a. Heather (Ronke Adekoluejo. Willow (Claire Forlani) is the oldest of the sisters, grounded, smart, and easily likeable with 2 sons, though her husband is not working so she needs a handout from Gemma.  Garden (Patricia Potter) is the unstable one who can’t accept the fact that her husband is having an affair and wonders what she could have done to keep him. India (Isabella Calthorpe) is in a very happy relationship with an artist, so she has no issues. And then there’s Mouse (Alice Sanders), the youngest of the bunch, she’s a free spirit who will go with any man who simply smiles at her, she’s acts innocent and dumb, and is a bit adventurous.
So there you have it, the five Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania now living in Manhattan.
The show begins with the women getting their dresses for a photo shoot and dresses that will be worn to an upcoming fundraising ball. India agonizes about her financial situation, Garden agonizes about her cheating husband, and Mouse continues to rhapsody about the many men that she meets. All the meanwhile, Gemma walks around with a not a care in the world – with Heather tagging along a few steps behind. The sets are very minimal, which I think is to match the minimal script. A living room, a ballroom, a closet, a tennis court (smartly done) and an almost bare stage backdropped by picture frames take us through 75 minutes of these woman’s lives, and one event that should change them forever but doesn’t. The event (I don’t want to give it away as it’s a key plot point) is meant to shock the audience and to make the woman pause to think about their lives, but moment’s later they are back to wearing their beautiful dresses with their sunglasses on, in a way to avoid or to welcome the paparazzi. And that is pretty much the show. Sure, the acting is very good, especially from Forlani (Meet Joe Black, NCIS: Los Angeles) and Potter (Holby City), the rest of the woman are playing caricatures of women we’ve seen portrayed on film and stage for many years; the socialite, the depressed wife, and the free spirt. And poor Adekoluejo, not only is she relegated to playing a maid and p.a., but in between scenes she is the one who moves stuff around on the stage! Writer Adam Brock seems to have watched a lot of Sex and the City to find personalities for the women, and some of the scenes don’t just come across as realistic. And it would have made for a more complete play if we knew more about the women and how they got from Pittsburgh to Manhattan. But the Set Design by Richard Kent will catch your eye as huge picture frames beautifully backdrop the show, and for a few minutes one of the picture frames shows them women as young girls, in happier times, as a family, with each other. This is the part of the show that stuck with me, and nothing else. And at the end of the show Mouse says “Nobody knows us, they think they do, but they don’t.” Yes, that’s correct, after seeing show I still don’t know who the Colby Sisters are.