Shakespeare's Sister (or La Vie Matérielle)

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Photograph: Emily Boland
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Photograph: Emily Boland
Shakespeare's Sister

Shakespeare's Sister (or La Vie Matérielle).Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa E.T.C. (see Off-Off Broadway). Adapted and directed by Irina Brook. With ensemble cast. 1hr. No intermission.

Shakespeare's Sister (or La Vie Matérielle): In brief

Irina Brook, daughter of theater guru Peter Brook, combines Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own with Marguerite Duras's La Vie Matérielle to form a fantasy dinner party at which five women discuss the issues facing them.

Shakespeare's Sister (or La Vie Matérielle): Theater review by Helen Shaw

Warmth—genuine radiating heat—suffuses Shakespeare's Sister (or La Vie Matérielle), Irina Brook's adaptation of writings by Marguerite Duras and Virginia Woolf. Indeed, the work, a pastiche of songs by raspy-voiced Sadie Jemmet and monologues on womanhood, so preoccupies itself with warmth that it manages to cook a pot of actual soup.

Brook gathers a quintet of accomplished women (not all actors), puts them in a sweet black-and-white kitchen of the type only found in Provence or somewhere glamorous upstate, and has them chop onions, listen to ’60s French music and repeat essentializing “wisdom” like “You have to take care of men like you take care of children.”

Sister is a competently collaged atmospheric (think of Charles Mee's tone poems) and it snuggles around its audience. I, unfortunately, am allergic to this brand of expensively-arrived-at domesticity, with its picturesque olden-timey fridges and dewy-eyed talk about motherhood. But there's no doubting the sincerity of those onstage. They wrap you up cozily, whether you like it or not.—Theater review by Helen Shaw

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Event website: http://lamama.org