The Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

Sibling rivalry, love and adultery. Gossip Girl meets Pride and Prejudice.

Five very different sisters are preparing for a family portrait, but beneath their designer gowns and shoes are clashing personalities, mistrust and anger. After an incident at a gala the sisters’ relationships change dramatically…

The Tricycle Theatre has a very deep stage, which gives it a lot of scope for a set. There are very few embellishments in The Colby Sisters; they make good use of large screens which move for each scene, showing images and video footage, but the actual stage is very bare. This is perhaps because the play itself is a little more complex, with lots of intense dialogue.

It’s definitely not a lighthearted play, although it starts off quite slowly and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, especially as not one of the characters is particularly likeable. But once the dynamics change, the gloves come off, the real drama begins and the audience starts to warm to the sisters.

The tennis scene is really effective, with fantastic sound effects during the game, but also the actors themselves. The acting from all six women is strong and each character is very believable. There are similarities between the five Colby sisters and the five Bennett sisters (the beautiful one; the plain one who’s brushed aside by the others; the young flirtatious one etc.), but the plot is more the glamour and drama of Gossip Girl.

It is slightly disjointed in places (especially during scene changes) and the character of Heather (performed admirably by Ronke Adekoluejo) seems to exist mainly to bring on props and shift furniture. Alice Sanders shines as youngest sister Mouse, with her vast array of emotional acting and personality traits.

The Colby Sisters is far from perfect, but writer Adam Bock and director Trip Cullman have created a powerful piece of theatre. It was deep, it was touching, it was intense.

Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes