York Theatre Royal – until 16 March 2019
Reviewed by Marcus Richardson
Wise Children, a novel by Angela Carter, follows the life’s of two showgirl twins Nora and Dora. An exiting journey into entertainment, family and all the bits in between. Directed by Emma Rice, we are given a performance with gender and race blind casting. Something that lends itself to the beauty of of the piece. A tale of twins from twins, two brother who couldn’t be more different and two sisters who dress and act very similar.
Gareth Snook plays the older version on Dora, on stage for most of the play with the sister Nora played by Etta Murfitt. The two take us down memory lane telling stories of their childhood and singing along the way. The story telling aspect of the play suits the aesthetic. Both Snook and Murfitt do a great job of working with each other to make a believable bond and characters that are entertaining. The highlight of the acting in the show was from both show girls Nora and Dora played by Omari Douglas and Melissa James, this is where we are given raunch and funny interaction between the twins. Douglas plays an adventurous Nora who is entertaining along side Dora who seems the more calmer of the two. The whole cast just jumps between playing characters at different points in their characters life, each actor does a great job of creating a character that fits in place and gives the show a vaudeville vibe from showgirls to catchy songs.
The set really appeals to me, there is no hiding the fact that they are on a stage, everything seems out in the open. However the centrepiece is this caravan on stage that is used throughout the play with cleaver hidden set changes behind the caravan. There is no denying that the set is visually appealing, something that follows with the costumes on stage, with the razzle and dazzle mirrored in the music and energy throughout the play.
I loved this show, the first act was much more entertaining, however the second act touches upon issues that aren’t always obvious in the first act. This tale of two daughters wanting to be recognised by their father is a true journey through the ages with styles in costumes and music. It asks the question on what is more important, family or fame. We see characters fail and we see characters rise but who are the happy ones.