PENNYROYAL is a delightful play from the fluid pen of Lucy Roslyn, exploring the see-sawing relationship between two sisters, Daphne and Christine.
It’s gentle, heart-warming and at times heart-breaking. Absorbing theatre, both poetic in its use of words and exquisite in its execution. Enriching. Off west end theatre at its very best.
With an underpinning layer of delicious humour, Pennyroyal charts the sisters’ ups and downs and their falling outs (occasionally involving a little bit of violence). Both sisters have issues.
Those of younger sibling Daphne (a stupendous Madison Clare) are the more obvious as she reels from discovering at the tender age of 19 that she is suffering from premature ovarian insufficiency. She resorts to IVF, with the eggs supplied by Christine. Will it work? Will the eggs that she has all named fertilise? Will she become the mother she so desperately wants to become?
On the other hand, Christine seems more in control of her life. While Daphne is flirty and likes the odd relationship or six, Christine is more reserved, more mature, on the surface more intelligent. She’s a pretty damned good gardener – and she cares passionately about Daphne. But appearances deceive. Christine is hiding a secret from Mum and from Daphne – and it leads to a fracturing of the bonds that have knitted them together.
Inspired by Edith Wharton’s 1922 novella The Old Maid, Pennyroyal is directed with aplomb by Josh Roche. The set, adorned by a number of attractive bottle gardens (Christine’s creation), is pleasing on the eye, while the background music (Hugh Sheehan) adds to the play rather than detracts or distracts.
Pennyroyal is ambitious in its scope and it is typical of Neil McPherson’s Finborough Theatre (physically small, creatively vast) that it has come up with such a fine production.
It runs until August 6. Well worth catching. Eighty minutes of sheer delight – far more rewarding than a feast of Turkish delight.
Photos by Helen Murray