Ché Walker’s latest production The Etienne Sisters takes to the stage at Stratford East Theatre Royal after experiencing much success with Klook’s Last Stand.
The Etienne Sisters is almost an emotional coming of age story. Three girls battle to find their feet and establish what it means to be a family. Two sisters Tree (Toussaint-White) and Ree Etienne (Saayeng) mourn the death of their mother, only to find their experience is worsened by the arrival of their long-time estranged half-sister, Bo (Ava-Brown).
Bo blows into to town like a cyclone, quickly bringing trouble to the door of her kin. It’s Duvivier. The mysterious Duvivier. Duvivier, the demon. A mythical unseen figure who brings a storm of trouble onto the house of sisters. The pace here feels rushed and a little haphazard in parts.
‘I can’t believe my own sister would come with this thievery and anarchy to my door..’
The 90 minute production with no interval leaves reasonable time for character development and growth but doesn’t hit the mark. The vernacular used disengages me almost right from the start. While innit and bruv are thrown in casually, it became quickly tiresome rather than giving any appeal to the trio.
There’s no orchestra or big band of any kind. The Etienne Sisters are accompanied by a single pianist (Nikki Yeoh) who supports the cast throughout their emotive ballads from centre stage. I felt the stage location for the pianist a bit disjointed. There are periods of being actively involved in a scene and other times merely just a prop on the set amongst a pile of tossed timber chairs. While I questioned what the message is here, there’s no question of Yeoh’s ability. She plays beautifully and clearly very talented.
The all-female cast are obviously musically proficient. There is a demonstrated strength behind their singing and an obvious harmony in their unity but lacked substance.
The Etienne Sisters
When: Tickets are on sale from now until 23 January 2016.
Where: Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, London, E15 1BN
Transport: Nearest tube station is Stratford.
Cost: Tickets from £7.
Disclosure: While I was a guest of Theatre Bloggers, all opinions, as always, are my own.