“Roundabout” at Summerhall is a magical circus tent with the audience sitting in a circle of tiered benches for the perfect theatre-in the-round stage.
Here we have the ideal empty space (as Peter Brook advocated), not a scrap of a set and dim shadowy lighting. A young woman with long blond hair, rushes in shouting “Hey, I’m home... do you have a tenner?” This is Rachel, arriving back at the family home in a taxi from the station to visit her elder sister Pauline and their sick, elderly father.
The chilly relationship between the sisters is palpable from the start, with Rachel chatting away bright and bubbly while Pauline emphasises her full time role as carer – “Breakfast at 6.30, first meds at 7.” Nine years older, and with her hair in a ponytail, wearing an old sweater and leggings, she has a haggard look and sullen tone of voice.
Rachel may not have been around to help, but feels her work lobbying the government on NHS funding for drugs is equally important, “an attempt to save lives around the world”.
As if flicking through the family photograph album over the past 25 years, we observe a sequence of energetic snapshot scenes to illustrate their shared and separate lives.
The various men are all played by one actor – teenage boyfriend, school teacher, doctor, university professor and their father – in a time travelling journey. Toyin Omari-Kinch is exceptional at portraying these diverse characters, and their influence in the girls’ lives, in short cameo roles.
Like a dramatic jigsaw, we can piece together key moments shifting in an instant back and forward, past and present. A flashback to the day Pauline meets her baby sister for the first time, expresses such a sweet sense of love and care. But then Dad always called Rachel, Little Miss Sunshine, (after her bedtime story), a jealous reminder of who was the favourite daughter.
Daughterhood is directed with choreographic fluidity and sharply drawn performances. How the sisters' competitive relationship began to splinter and fracture from happy childhood to estranged adults is dramatised with brittle, brutal and emotional honesty.
31 July. 1, 2, 3, 5 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22,23, 25 August. @ 11.30 or 14:15 (check listings)
Tickets: £17.00 (£12.00), £15.00 (£10.00)
Age guidance: 14+