Three sisters reflect on their lives - the ups and the downs - whilst attempting to plan their mother's funeral. Mary (Lucy Tregar) is the intellectual sister (the doctor), the daughter whom her mother was proud of for her academic achievements. Teresa (Meriel Scholfield) is the badge-wearing vegetarian who's so concerned about doing right by everyone that invariably she offends and upsets all around her. Catherine (Jessica Lloyd) is the quirky young attention seeker who longs to be loved and listened to.
These three extraordinary women find themselves forced to confront their past in their present as the ghost of their mother - different to all of them - looms in the distance. Grief, guilt, and secrets and lies throw up obstacles to their attempts to clear out their mother's house, clear up misunderstandings, re-live childhood memories and attempt to resolve problems within their various relationships.
Men are not left out of the equation. Teresa's husband Frank (Paul Raffield) is the rock that she needs, but he's not as happy as he seems. Mary is having an affair with a TV doctor, Mike (Matthew Vaughan). And Catherine's partner, Xavier, is mentioned but never seen; he's 'too busy' to comfort her - in other words, he's left her.
Shelagh Stephenson's raw script ensures that this play is never manipulative. Each tear you shed is replaced by a hearty burst of laughter. The humour that arises from sad situations is explored with a real knowing edge, as awkward silences of grief contrast with unannounced but not unwelcome outbursts.
In this Library production, directed by Roger Haines with a great sense of immediacy, the acting is remarkable. The three leads make you thoroughly believe their sisterhood, with all its little signs of love and irritability. Scholfield's breathless performance as headstrong Teresa is particularly strong, reminiscent of a young Julie Walters.
The set - beautifully realised with torn bedroom wallpaper and sand and half-buried childhood photographs scattered round the edge of the stage - is a real credit to designer Judith Croft and her ability to speak loudly through props.
The themes of grief, heartache and jealous may not sound like a fun night out, but you'll be surprised. This lovely tale of sibling rivalry and motherly love has the audience laughing out loud throughout. You'll be glad you ventured out of the house for this one.
- Glenn Meads