The Attic, the Pearls and Three Fine Girls is the current offering at Sage Theatre. Terrible title, wonderful play.
It's an odd sort of play for Sage Theatre to be producing, and that is evident in the way the room is set up when you enter - a very conventional layout with rows of seats on risers at one end, the stage at the other. And you know Sage does not do conventional, so your suspicions are immediately aroused.
And it's an unusual play in the way in which it was written - by committee. Jennifer Bewin, Leah Cherniak, Anne-Marie MacDonald, Alisa Palmer, and Martha Ross teamed up to pen this tale of three sisters, long estranged but once very close, who meet at the family home for their father's funeral. How one writes a play with four others is completely beyond my comprehension, but these playwrights have pulled it off quite brilliantly.
The Attic, the Pearl and Three Fine Girls is a fast-paced, hilarious romp. Again, hilarious is not a term that you normally associate with a Sage Theatre production. Biting wit, certainly. Dark humour, absolutely. But hilarity is not an attribute I expect from a Sage play. There are weightier themes that are explored as Jelly, Jayne, and Jojo Fine rekindle their connections and reopen old wounds, but the clever repartee is never allowed to lapse for very long. Many kudos to Ava Jane Markus, Nicola Elson, and Elinor Holt for the high-energy performances in these verbally and physically demanding roles. There's even a slo-mo fight scene, complete with laser sword, wonderfully wrought.
The majority of the play takes place within the confines of a party, a dying wish of their father, held a week after his death, The party gets wilder and more out of control as Jayne gets drunk and confronts her secrets, Jojo has a break with reality, and Jelly tries to hold everything together. The Fine girls mingle with the audience during the party, offering crackers and lap dances, much to everyone's delight.
Interspersed throughout the production are flashback scenes to the Fine girls' childhoods, where they would invent elaborate games of make-believe in the attic, complete with the torture dress that allowed the wearer to dominate the others. The relationship dynamics that were developed during those games form the basis for the dysfunction that continues to stalk the sisters. The performances during the flashback scenes are quite astounding in their very real capture of the body language and the power struggles that are inherent when siblings play.
The Attic, the Pearls and Three Fine Girls is an immensely enjoyable production, and a very welcome addition to Sage Theatre's strong season of plays. It runs until November 22.