shuttersShutters is now playing at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park and is not to be missed. A triple bill of American plays that explores the journey of women over the last century featuring an all female ensemble.

Cast of Characters is the first of the triple bill and is by playwright Philip Dawkins. A dramatic take on a family’s story told through the 3rd person with the characters being portrayed at the same time.

Interesting characterisation with strong performances from most of the cast, notably the character of Marie played by Matilda Thorpe and Vicky Yolanda Kettle provide particularly comical performances with ease and grace.

This piece was confusing at times as a multitude of characters are portrayed in such a short space of time and it was difficult to grasp who was who due to the quickness of character and tense changes. On the whole very enjoyable and characters that we could all relate to within our own families.

Our second show was a period piece called Trifles. Written by Pulitzer Prize winner Susan Glaspell and is loosely based on true events from her days as a reporter in 1916.

We open the production so discover that there’s been a murder and the wife Mrs Minnie Wright (Yolanda Kettle) is the prime suspect. Although a non speaking role Kettle has strong presence and adds mood and atmosphere to the piece.

The use of space and lighting make this an eery piece of drama with angst. The two female characters Mrs Peters (Nicola Blackman) and Mrs Hale (Joanna Kirkland) deliver strong performances as they outwit their male counterparts in investigating the crime and looking for the reason as to why the murder may have occurred.

Both Blackman and Kirkland  portray women of independence with strength of character putting the female intellect ahead of the male ego.

Trifles is a subtle and sensitive look as to the reasons and motivations of Minnie Wright and the psychology behind her possible behaviour of killing her husband.

The Deer was the final piece in our triple bill and for me, this was the stand out play of the evening. Brooke Allen’s play is a delicately tragic story of one woman’s attempt to deal with her grief.

I found this piece engaging and emotive with superb performances and a fantastic use of the space with a member of the cast ‘floating’ at one stage (without the use of hydraulics!)

This piece is steeped in after thought and looks at death, love and relationships.

Joanna Kirkland is truly exceptional as Deer-her physicalisation and portrayal of the animal carries warmth and humour whist remaining true and respectful to the piece and the subject matter.

Lucia McAnespie is incredibly powerful as Russ (the lost and wayward younger brother) and is so believable that you forget she’s actually a woman playing a man. A strong commitment to her role and embracing the troubled mind of this boy, McAnespie stands out as one of the highlights of the evening during this production.

I did feel there was an ill judged comedy song in the morgue which jared and felt slightly out of place and unnecessary to either plot or pace.

Yolanda Kettle, again gave a stellar performance as Clara, Russ’s older sister and Johns lover (portrayed with conviction by Beverley Longhurst). Kettle struck just the right note in terms of emotional connectedness and I found myself moved to tears throughout her performance.

This all female ensemble drive consistent performances throughout all 3 productions and Director Jack Thorpe Baker has done a wonderful job in creating three very different ‘worlds’ for us to delve into and explore the female character in a variety of situations throughout the ages.

Shutters has something for everyone, each show will leave you thinking and reflective and with a strong cast and some outstanding performances you need to get along to see this before the final curtain closes.

Reviewed by Matthew Wren Andrew

Shutters is playing at the Park Theatre until 3rd August 2014. Click here for more information and to book tickets.