Review | Minus One Sister, an exciting debut from a new theatre collective

Minus One Sister | Studio Underground | Until 3rd February | ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Thumping electronic beats play creating a throbbing atmosphere, a girl dressed in black shorts, a bra and a casual jackets appears, she chugs from a goon bag before dancing around the stage, suddenly everything is dark, pitch black, the lights come back on and three young people, two girls and a boy stand on stage and begin talking. Talking fast, talking over each other, repeating phrases, emphasizing words. It’s confusing, it’s captivating, its exciting.

So begins Minus One Sister, playwright Anna Barnes retelling of classic Greek tale of Electra.

The staging is minimalist, just two walls and a floor, a wise choice which allows the performances of Stephanie Somervile, Isaac Diamond, Skye Beker and Phoebe Sullivan to take centre stage.

Through a series of quickly changes scenes we’re plunged into a classic tale of murder, revenge and violence. The four actors deliver their lines in tight syncopation, they play multiple characters, switching back and forth, they dart on and off stage, the story moves like a bullet train.

One sister is taken away, her remaining brother and sister recall what happened, she was murder, sacrificed for a greater good. A move that puts this family into turmoil. As the story progresses your emotions are wound up and released over and over again.

The work is backed by a killer soundscape from composer Alex Turley, the music is central to the production, creating atmosphere and suspense. This no ambient soundscape, this a soundtrack you want to go home and download. At times the music drowned out the actors, but I was so engrossed in what they were saying I didn’t mind occasionally straining to hear some lines.

Running at just under an hour, this show is perfectly timed, it’s an intense theatrical experience that builds to a violent crescendo.

In today’s current political climate it’s inevitable that this play will prompt discussions about the #metoo movement, domestic violence and sexual violence – it’s something Director Riley Spadaro addresses in his notes on the production.

Watching this show though, I found myself thinking specifically of cases including Lyle and Erik Menendez, Sef Gonzales, or the shocking Lin family murders. Minus One Sister is a probing piece of theatre that looks into the emotion, shock and manipulation that is out of sight.

This is the first production from new theatre collective S.A.L.T. Track down their mailing list and get your name on it, they’re showing a lot of promise.


Minus One Sister is playing as part of Fringe World.


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