As the mercury on the political thermometer in the UK rises, Sara Shaarawi’s Sister Radio serves as a reminder of the interconnected nature of our world and just how we rarely view it that way.
With a global pandemic comfining a pair of chalk-and-cheese Iranian siblings together in a small Edinburgh flat, the pressure between the two builds to boiling point as personal and cultural differences are heightened under the pressure of being locked inside.
The longing to return to the homeland, the cultural clash with our Western society and the familial ties that we are all bound by are front and centre across the 80-minute play.
Caitlin Skinner brings Shaarawi’s script to life as a delicately choreographed dance between the sisters, dissecting the relationship as if performing open heart surgery; it’s captivating, even if there are uncomfortable discoveries to be made.
It’s this choreography that allows Sister Radio to convey a significant chunk of its drama without speaking a word – a huge testament to Nalân Burgess and Lanna Joffrey, who play the warring sisters.
The pair’s chemistry is electric. As the tension builds, it’s like watching a punishing game of tennis as barbed insults fly across the stage between the two.
Sister Radio’s exposure of the sibling relationship is pitch-perfect. Remarkably relatable without talking down to those who don’t have person experience, Burgess and Joffrey nail the tension between the pair as the cultural differences become more apparent.
Across a muddling 43 year span, Skinner beautifully captures the seemingly mundane before delivering a soapy shocker of a revelation.
It’s protracted opening is vital for the closing pay-off which shows how these warring sisters finally make peace with each other.
It’s only frustrating, however, that what comes between the pair is both unnecessary to the drama and wholly predictable. That palpable tension – which it’s cast do so well in sculpting – is lost in a cheap chunk of unnecessary drama.
Becky Minto sets the piece in a stunning harmony with Kate Bonney’s lighting. Capturing the claustrophobic nature of the tiny flat as the pandemic strikes then flicking a switch to make the same space feel fast and exciting for the wide-eyed Farin’s arrival to Scotland.
Putting the spotlight on its audience, it lays out some uncomfortable truths about what we all suffer to keep equilibrium in a family and reminds us of our relative insignificance in a broken world.