Review – The Half

By Meryem Hassan

Who could be more trustworthy than your own sister? And if trust is lost, can it ever truly be regained?

These are the questions raised in Feathers, a reimagining of an episode from Ovid’s epic poem The Metamorphoses. Having a background in Literature I concluded this play wouldn’t have a happy ending. However a good playwright instinctively knows when to provide an unexpected plot twist, ensuring the audience are left reeling from a production that is both enthralling and pertinent. I walked out of Feathers shaken to the core.

Cynical journalist Dan loves to torment his wife Marisa. At Marisa’s behest her troubled sister Edie joins the marital home. This results in friction and allegations of brutality. What emerges clearly is that the damaged relationship between the two sisters can never be healed.

The ancient influences are visible, and not only in the comical references to Medea. In a nod to the God’s governance, the family live in a self-contained world, ruled by an omnipotent and unseen father who is merely a phone call away. The patriarch is the initial threat to Edie’s wellbeing. Soon her lustful brother-in-law proves to be an additional threat.

The success of Feathers lies in the ambiguity surrounding the sisters’ past and Edie’s encounter with Dan. That sense of inexplicable mystery remains long after the play has ended. Sympathies slide between the characters, leaving the audience to decide for themselves who is the guilty party. The decision is a difficult one. Each character is compellingly self-contradictory, and capable of both charm and cruelty.

Language is obviously at the heart of the play and Power uses razor-sharp humour and quick-fire repartee to reveal an uncanny insight into the darker side of human relationships. Speeches fizz with energy and incisive dialogue, but behind each punchy interaction lies a deeper meaning.

The production, directed by Milla Jackson, is carried by the engaging performances of a cast of fine actors. Eleanor Wright, who plays Edie, gives a magnetic performance, capturing the torment of a young woman forced to revisit her past. Carrie Marx is perfectly arch and acerbic as the indifferent Marisa, while Ben Mann’s marvellously belligerent Dan veers between man-child and bullish villain.

Feathers is a wickedly funny and gripping play by a talented writer; a portrait of two sisters, desperately seeking truth in a world where trust has been irrevocably shattered.

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