Chloe, Maia and Anna are reunited under the most painful of circumstances, the death of their mother. After a series of strokes, Chloe, the youngest, became her Mum’s full-time carer at an untimely age, whilst her eldest sister Anna embarked upon a new life in the US and the free-spirited Maia moved from one shiny possibility to the next, coming-and-going through the family home as she pleased. Despite their resentments, this trio are united by blood, by a love which grows through grief. The story unfolds in their mother’s attic, piled high with boxes, bags and a piano caked in dust. Each perceives these mounds of memorabilia differently, but all agree to sift through the contents in the hope of recovering their mother’s missing will, which holds the promise of emotional closure.
A poignant story, enriched by the narrative’s simplicity
This is a poignant story, enriched by the narrative’s simplicity. Matthew Bulgo’s script was brimming with tight and punchy dialogue, with a near-constant cacophony of interruptions conveying three unique experiences of heart-breaking loss in a realistic and starkly honest manner. Anna’s neurotic self-obsession and inability to compromise clashed wonderfully with Maia’s fierce yet funny approach to life. Meanwhile, amidst spirals of anxiety, Chloe initially kept quiet about her own experience; although determined to appease her highly vocal and opinionated siblings, Chloe eventually cracks. Her meltdown was gut-wrenching, without a hint of melodrama, and offered valuable insights into the pain that comes from a life of care, both lovingly given and requiring self-sacrifice.
Despite these largely gripping performances, the musical interjections from the Staves were tiring and poorly executed, adding an unnecessary thirty minutes. Every time I felt engaged by the story, such as when Chloe finally exploded and was heard, a song would ensue, the energy crumble. None of the actors were especially good singers, but all were fine and weren’t given much to work with. Despite the elaborate and probably expensive set supplied by the Traverse Theatre, including a scalable frame, impressive LED lights, dangling bulbs and twinkling stars, Riordan and Williams’ choreography was bland. The actors continuously returned to predictable triangular positions and weren’t given much room to take advantage of the grand space. This was disappointing for a production that had so much potential.