Review by David Munro
THIS notice is more of an obituary than a review, as the play
closed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, in Scarborough, at
the beginning of the year, and, therefore, by rights, should not
be noticed on a website dedicated to London's theatre, film and
My excuse is that it is a play by Alan Aykbourn and, as such,
it is sure to be seen in the West End before long.
If it isn't, it should be, as it is one of the most delightful,
funny and fantastic plays I have seen for a long time. The plot
may borrow from Isaac Asimov and the theme , 'make love not war'
is not original, but as presented by Sir Alan, it comes up newly
minted, fresh and pleasurable.
The plot can only really be touched upon, as to do more would
spoil the denouement and the ultimate pleasure of the play.
Suffice it to say there is a helicopter crash in a remote part
of the country from which a girl survives unharmed.
She is shaken , bemused and terrified and the mother of a local
farmer takes her in as a substitute for her daughter, who had
died in a swimming accident some years previously.
All this, much to the consternation and horror of her son, Luke,
who is given the task of looking after and coping with his amnesiac
The military and an authoritarian lady boffin are combing the
wreckage of the helicopter for a scientist and her work, which
is the 'ultimate weapon to end all wars', and want Sadie removed
to a hospital for further questioning and pschycological treatment,
to elucidate what occurred in the crash.
This is something that Luke's mother and, reluctantly, Luke are
determined to prevent.
It is the clash and interplay between the authorities, Sadie,
Luke and his mother, and not the predictable resolution of the
plot, which provide the mainspring of the piece, and generates
the humour and humanity which gives, to me at any rate, a special
meaning to the play.
The cast are impeccable, and if the play does come to London
it will probably be re-cast, which will be a pity.
As the survivor, Sadie, Saskia Butler gives the girl the ethereal
and offbeat character which holds the audience to the end.
As her 'brother', Luke the farmer, Neil Grainger changes convincingly
from bewilderment at having a new 'sister' thrust upon him, to
a protective love for her, whose reciprocation provides the final
twist of the plot.
As the mother who finds in Sadie a long sought-after replacement
for her lost daughter, Becky Hindley gives the right mixture of
down-to- earth commonsense and frustrated mother love, to make
this aspect of the plot acceptable.
Justin Brett and Adrian McLoughlin play Captain Lennox and his
Sergeant, Jipton, on the edge of broad farce, but still retain
enough reality and humanity in the characters so as to make their
role as deus ex machina at the end credible.
In perhaps the most unrewarding part in the play, Lisa, the self-appointed
girlfriend of Luke, who finds the Sadie-sister relationship a
little to much to accept, Charlie Hayes does all she is called
upon to do, well.
The lady Boffin, Dr Thora Grayling, who reminded me of one of
the Gilbertian spinsters who frequent the Savoy Operas, was in
the safe hands of Alexandra Mathie, who made an endearing dragon
The direction is by Sir Alan Aykbourn and, as you would expect,
leaves nothing to be desired.
The set, if such can be described in theatre in the round, was
by Pip Leckenby and came on, or up, convincingly when required.
In a theatrical climate, where the fantasy of Harry
Potter and The
Lords of the Rings, are accepted as commonplace, there is
room for a play like My Sister Sadie, and I hope she finds