Review and production pics: Before the Party, Almeida Theatre
Theatre: best of 2013 so far...and Peter and Alice isn't number one *shock*

Review: The bittersweet Third Finger, Left Hand at Trafalgar Studios 2

Third-Finger-Left-Hand-010Thanks to @mereplebeian for alerting me to this one, it's written by her friend Dermot Canavan, someone I remember meeting back in the last century, when we were at University.

Canavan is an actor and Third Finger, Left Hand is his first full length play which is making its first appearance in London at the Trafalgar Studios 2 having won awards at the Edinburgh Fringe. It is a two-hander that sees feuding sisters Niamh (Imogen Stubbs) and Grace (Amanda Daniels) reminiscing about growing up in Preston during the 1970s. But could the trip down memory lane and Niamh's terminal cancer reconcile the sisters?

This is a bittersweet tale that has you laughing one moment and crying the next. Flitting backwards and forwards from their childhood and adolescence to adulthood with a mutual love of dancing and the Northern Soul scene as the back drop; there is a lot of dancing.

Canavan paints a picture of a close, yet troubled family; a strict, violent father's abuse is intersperse with those joyous moments, however fleeting, that all siblings and families share when everyone is having fun.

No doubt there is something personal everyone can related to about family life in Third Finger, Left Hand. For me it was the frustration felt by the sisters waiting patiently for their parents to get ready to leave for a family trip to Blackpool. My parents always decided to have a cuppa after parking up at Alton Towers when my brother and I were just desperate to start queueing for the rides.

The bitterness comes, not just from the stories of horrendous punishment beatings handed out by the father but also from a mixture of tragedy and resentment for past behaviour. Grace is the one that is always there at the difficult times while Niamh, the favoured first born, absconds unable to cope.

For all its good and bad recollections the plays success comes from the fact that it is rooted in personal experience, it feels real and genuine. There is no theatrical language and obvious contrivance, it is heartfelt both in script and in the two superb performances.

Definitely worth a look, Third Finger, Left Hand runs at the Trafalgar Studios 2 until April 27.

Recently seen:

Before the Party, Almeida Theatre

The Hospital at the Time of the Revolution, Finborough Theatre

Gibraltar, Arcola Theatre

Smack Family Robinson, Rose Theatre, Kingston


An easy peasy one, the wonderful Imogen Stubbs played Getrude to Mr W's Hamlet.