Review Roundup: THE COLBY SISTERS OF PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA
Claire Forlani, Alice Sanders, Patricia Potter, Isabella Calthorpe, Charlotte Parry and Ronke Adekoluejo star in the world premiere production of Adam Bock's new play THE COLBY SISTERS OF PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, which opened at the Tricycle Theatre on June 19, 2014.
Let's see what the critics had to say:
Michael Coveney of whatsonstage: Holding the ring is Charlotte Parry's forceful, domineering Gemma, rounding on them all as evidence of dysfunctional behaviour, their father's brutishness and mother's probable suicide, seeps through the accumulating acrimoniousness... Designer Richard Kent and costume supervisor Natasha Ward have dressed this catty cat-walk of a show with real flair and panache. The dresses for the gala evening are breathtaking (and breath-squeezing, in Parry's case; her waist must be about twelve inches), then there's a wonderful assortment of little black numbers and - just right for Wimbledon fortnight - some snazzy white sportswear for an onstage tennis match.
Henry Hitchings of the Evening Standard: This premiere... is comparatively weak - aspiring to be a sassy crowd-pleaser, yet falling short... Bock does a decent job of capturing the vacuous nature of these women's social lives, in situations ranging from a chic gala to a bad-tempered tennis match. But the material is overfamiliar. It's reminiscent of TV shows such as Sex and the City and Gossip Girl, with the same emphasis on fashion, feuds and dysfunctional relationships. And at 75 minutes the play feels slight - like the first half of something much meatier.
Michael Billington of the Guardian: It would be a better play if there were a stronger back story and we learned more both about an ancestral family tragedy and how the sisters made it from Pittsburgh to Fifth Avenue. But there is no denying that Trip Cullman's production and Richard Kent's costumes give it a sumptuous veneer. The eccentrically named sisters are also well played even if each of them relies on a single dominating characteristic. Charlotte Parry as the bullying Gemma has, in Scott Fitzgerald's words, "a voice full of money". Isabella Calthorpe exudes a Grace Kelly-like cool as the stylish India, Patricia Potter is all marital anguish as the cultivated Garden, Alice Sanders radiates bouncy cheerfulness as the man-swapping Mouse, and one is tempted to describe Claire Forlani, as the relatively impoverished outsider in the family, as the weeping Willow. I was only disappointed that Ronke Adekoluejo as the patronised PA never gets a chance to express her point of view.
Jane Shilling of the Telegraph: The five Colby sisters, Willow (Claire Forlani), India (Isabella Calthorpe), twins Gemma (Charlotte Parry) and Garden (Patricia Potter), and the baby of the family, Mouse (Alice Sanders), are not dim, exactly, but they have the other-worldly manner that comes from being insulated from the grimy realities of everyday life by unfeasible quantities of money. Apart from Willow, who has married badly and faces the unimaginable prospect of possibly having to work.
Kate Bassett of the Times: ...frankly, I never felt - from start to finish - that I was gaining any real knowledge, intimacy or insights regarding the It girls in this so-called black comedy... Sure, we spend some time behind closed doors with five quarrelsome fashionistas who, we gather, have upmarket husbands and a remarried, rich daddy offstage. In terms of characterisation, however, this is a paper-thin group portrait... Isabella Calthorpe, as the amiable but glazed belle India, is meant to be in gutted, tearful breakdown. She looks as if she's merely going through the motions, though... Charlotte Parry, to her credit, makes the monstrously bossy and bitchy sister, Gemma, seem slightly more three-dimensional than a wicked witch.