THE COLBY SISTERS OF PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn

GUEST REVIEWER LUKE JONES ENDURES GLOSSY EMPTINESS AT THE HANDS OF NEW YORK SOCIALITES

Ever wondered what happens to Disney princesses when they grow up boring? Adam Bock has. His new play, premiering at the Tricycle, sets out with such rich pickings: five immaculate sisters, all varying degrees of gorgeous and at the centre of New York high society. The mind can genuinely boggle at this premise; so much to satirise, explore and comment upon. However, this play opts instead to sit and fester. The only injection of drama is that some of the sisters don’t get on that well; a device which is so laboured over and so uninterestingly dealt with that one of the characters takes the initiative and shoots herself. A shocking relief.

Although the play is vaguely threaded around the marital breakdown and eventual suicide of one of the sisters (Patricia Potter), the main bulk of the action concerns a series of extremely flat scenes. At one point they are trying on dresses for the Gala, then they go to the Gala, then they mourn the death of the sister who shot herself at the Gala, then they play tennis. Obviously.

This absolute fluff (not condescendingly satirised, but positively indulged in) is decorated with inane conversation desperately trying to buy subtext. ‘It’s so tiresome not having money,’ Willow sighs, whilst Mouse (these are their actual names) shares that her new boyfriend is a ‘barista, whatever that is. I think it’s some kind of lawyer for the poor’. The entire text is a loathsome cliché with nothing going on underneath. Paparazzi are following them, most of them are extremely wealthy, one has a PA, yet none of it is explained. The poor, poor actors have nothing to get their teeth into and only Claire Forlani (as Willow) manages to scrape together anything interesting as the victim of the others’ snobbery.

The dialogue – a flick switch between dull conversation and raging argument – is exceptionally poor and verging on offensive. We laugh at Made in Chelsea and Keeping Up With The Kardashians because they know it is meaningless distraction, and to some extent play up to that, whereas this production approaches essentially the same group of people but with a worthiness and self assurance that it is something more.

‘Nobody knows us. They think they do. But they don’t,’ Mouse says at the very end of the play, as the three remaining sisters prepare to strut out into the gaggle of photographers. I am here to testify that there is nothing to know. And if there is, this play doesn’t have a clue either.

– LUKE JONES

Rating: One 1 Meece Rating

At the Tricycle Theatre until 26 July. Box Office: 020 7328 1000

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