The Killing of Sister George has just finished its run at London Theatre Workshop and it’s one of those plays that has to be looked at from a particular perspective. Now in its revival, fifty years after its first performance, it does ring bells but do those bells still have the same impact?
The play centres around June, who plays the beloved Sister George on a popular radio drama. But as June finds out, beloved isn’t always forever and as her professional life starts to fall to pieces, so does her personal life.
Sioned Jones’ June, or as she’s called throughout most of the play, ‘George’, wasn’t a character I grew to like, and maybe you weren’t supposed to. Maybe it comes from that whole theory of the person behind a character being different to who you want them to be, but when you don’t like someone it can be hard to connect or relate to them in the piece.
Tied into this was George’s flatmate ‘Childie’, played by Briony Rawle, and their strange relationship. You wonder why someone would put up with such antics, where in one moment she’s made to eat George’s cigar butt and then they proceed to laugh over the event. I also don’t think this is an age viewpoint, because ‘things were different back then’.
I am, however, a sucker for a good piece of comedy and the characters of Madame Xenia (Janet Amsden) and Mrs Mercy Croft (Sarah Shelton) presented fantastic comedic elements on two opposite ends of the spectrum, making the play what it was.
On the one hand you had Croft, the voice of the BBC, in that brilliant stiff backed, proper and presented formal manner that allowed for some great one-liners. Against this you had Madame Xenia as this fantastic gypsy-like fortuneteller whose humour flowed effortlessly throughout. It was quick, witty and just plain funny. These were the moments that brought me into the situation and made me pay attention; I found I wasn’t caring about the rest of the characters or the story in maybe the way that I should’ve.
Ends were loosely thrown together and tied up without the impact they would have had fifty years ago, so that whilst the play was nice enough overall, it didn’t pack the punch that it could have done.