Tuesday, July 23

Sparks – Jack Studio Theatre

Sisterhood is complicated. Sparks, a ninety-minute play by Simon Longman does not make it any simpler.

Directed by Julia Stubbs for the Upper Hand Theatre whose co-founders also star in this production, Sparks stages the reunion of two sisters separated by twelve years without contact and a lifetime of disparate experience.

Lisa Minichiello plays Sarah, a young woman without any friends who lives in an apartment without a sofa, works in an office without any purpose, and goes through the first twenty minutes of the play without any lines. Emma Riches dominates the stage as Jess, Sarah’s chaotic older sister who materializes on her doorstep one night with a goldfish and a back bar. The contrast between them is extreme almost to the point of unreality and their distinguishing features such as Jess’s tattoos and Sarah’s ill fitted cardigans are undermined in their efficacy by lack of consistency in the performance’s hair and makeup work.

The set design, which Ellie Wintour consulted, is almost sufficient for the play’s purposes but offers very little of interest beyond fulfilling the immediate needs of the performers and in some cases does not even extend that far and especially disappoints in unnecessary transitional intervals between scenes.

Matthew Karmios’s ambitious lighting design and competent sound work does spark something in audiences but is so at odds with the quality of writing and performance that it unfortunately only adds to the confusion where it attempts to dazzle.

For a production company founded with the explicit aim of increasing opportunities for women in theatre this play is a both inoffensive and ineffective choice. Sparks, like the fireworks it gets its name from, may get your attention but it won’t last long.

Reviewer: Kira Daniels

Reviewed: 4th July 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.