A mixture of mid-twentieth century furniture in the middle of the bare stage of the Lowry's Studio theatre, forms a 1960s lounge scene which serves as the single setting for this deceptively simple play. With only four female characters it manages in its two hours to cover the themes of love, art, obsession, creativity, abuse, power and betrayal, and to raise a laugh at the same time.
Frank Marcus's The Killing of Sister George is the story of actress June Buckridge who faces the death of her fictional character Sister George, the seeming lynchpin of radio serial Applehurst - a thinly disguised clone of Radio 4's The Archers.
It emerges that Buckridge's character flaws, as well as falling ratings, may be responsible for the sudden demise of her character. The play explores the actress's reactions to this news as well as the relationship between her and her lover, Alice, and with the people around them.
Tara Daniels, as Buckridge, gives the part her all. At first it seems like over-acting, but it soon becomes apparent that this is a trait of the character, not the actress herself, as the subtleties of her characterisation accumulate to create a sympathetic monster.
Hazel Earle's Alice is carefully drawn and appealing, and provides the audience with their way into the play. Claire Disley and Menyee Lai support the main characters well, with Lai turning in a wonderful comic turn as Madam Xenia.
The stage design may be simple, but it works well, and the lighting change at the end works to enhance the power of the script.
Wyllie Longmore's direction is also straightforward, but small touches - such as the imaginary hallway to the apartment - create a very real location out of the bare studio space. Audio is confined to the occasional sound-effect and occasional excerpts from Applehurst, leaving plenty of space in which the darkness and conflict of the script can play out.
This is a powerful and darkly comic play and is handled well by the Zeitgeist company. It is a simple production, but thought-provoking and moving, and the storyline, so current in the 1960s, still has just as much relevance today.
This is a good performance of an intriguing play and well worth seeing this weekend.