I got to thinking during the drive home last night that there’s an awful lot of drama about three women, often sisters … not sure why three rather than two or four. Now these couplings are inevitably memorable. A few that spring to mind include the (in)famous sisters Lear (Regan, Goneril and the goody-goody Cordelia), and Chekhov’s Masha, Olga, and Irina. Australian drama has produced Hannie Rayson’s Falling From Grace, Stephen Sewell‘s The Garden of Granddaughters, and Hotel Sorrento by Hannie Rayson. The American theatre has given us The Sisters Rosensweig from Wendy Wasserstein (one of my favourite writers), Three Tall Women by Edward Albee and another from the modern American theatre, Neil Simon’s wonderful triple treat from The Prisoner of Second Avenue: Pearl, Jessie, and Pauline.
I spent another night in the theatre last evening at the opening of Queensland Theatre Company’s newest production of Simon’s play. I spent it in the company of many, but undoubtedly the most memorable were the three sisters Pearl, Jessie, and Pauline. These essentialised New Yorkers appear in only one scene … a kind of respite in Act 2 for the key characters in the rest of the play, husband and wife Mel and Edna.
Small roles often bring out the best in good actors, and we saw this last night. Simon’s black-comedy (nominated for a Tony in 1972) provides a tour de force for the actors playing Mel and Edna, but he’s also written a gem of a scene for the three sisters (and Harry). It’s more than just a breather though; the three sisters drive a delicious scene that stands on its own as a comic gem in characterisation and witty dialogue. Now I wouldn’t want these three (or any of the other threesomes) at a dinner party, but they made my night.
Long live women x 3.