Emotional last night performances: David Tennant in Richard II and the cast of Mojo
Review: Lesley Sharp and Kate O'Flynn in A Taste of Honey at the National Theatre

Review: In Skagway, Arcola

Frankie (Angeline Bell) is a faded actress who had built a career hawking one performance around Northern American States. The opening of the play finds her crippled and speechless after suffering a stroke. She is being cared for by her companion May (Geraldine Alexander) and supported financially by May's daughter T-Belle (Kathy Rose O'Brien) who prospects for a rapidly diminishing supply of gold in Alaskan town Skagway.

Playwright Karen Ardiff uses flashbacks, a voice over of Frankie's thoughts and snippets from conversations between May and T-Belle to tell the story of the trio and why decisions need to be made.

Frankie is self-centred and obsessed with fame sacrificing little herself while those around her seem to sacrifice much to support her. As a protagonist Frankie is wholly unlikeable, even her final act is selfish and as a result sympathies lie with T-Belle who seems to be the only one sensible enough to see through Frankie and try and do something practical about their situation.

As a set up for a play it is a rather unique blend of a theatrical life and the cold harsh day to day reality living in a challenging environment at the turn of the 20th Century. It is reflected in a mixture of scenes that have the colour and a vague flamboyance of old style theatre with a more straightforward drama but I'm not entirely sure it worked.

There is an interesting story here, certainly not a cheery story, with some nice twists and turns but I felt the narrative lacked a convincing purpose. As a result I was left questioning the reason for May's loyalties towards Frankie after everything she'd done to her. Frankie does not appear to have, or indeed had, any redeeming qualities with which to understand why two people would sacrifice so much for her.

At the end of In Skagway you are left with an oddly macabre image which felt appropriate in its strangeness.

In Skagway runs at the Arcola until March 1.