They say that, while you can choose your friends, you can’t choose your family; even when you pick a partner, you have no say about the family that comes along with them.
This is a poignant, heart-felt and emotionally honest play about family conflicts and those of us who are left behind.
So, although the always-knitting Kitty has known Sylvia and Alison since they were young girls, she had no choice in them becoming “family” when they married her two sons. Yet she’s the sort of woman who gets on with life, whatever it throws at her. Even the reality of her fisherman husband and their two sons being lost at sea. Even suddenly finding herself united with her two daughter-in-laws in widowhood.
On the surface at least, Alison is taking widowhood the worst. She and her son are staying in Kitty’s spare room rather than their own home. She’s sleeping till late afternoon, not bothering to even get dressed, while Kitty ensures that “the bairn” is looked after. Sylvia, in contrast, is the power-suited career-focused woman who insists that she’s getting on with things. Yet the fragility of their emotions are soon clear enough when united in each other’s company, with a bottle of alcohol.
“One knock on the door and they’re gone,” says Sylvia of how she heard the news that she had always, to some extent, expected; what none of them expect, however, is the ring on Kitty’s doorbell which informs them how one body from the family fishing boat has been recovered. The three women now face an agonising, night-long wait until they can learn from the authorities which of them will have a funeral to arrange.
Told across four scenes, before and after the funeral, the drink flows and the emotional cracks between the three women slowly come to the surface, not least thanks to Sylvia’s increasing demands for the others to admit that, just like her, they want the unidentified body to be their own husband. When Kitty insists that her husband always wanted to die at sea, and that she’s content with that, her air of “keeping busy” only breaks when she’s effectively asked to then choose between her two sons –something she absolutely, and with real heart, refuses to do.
This is a poignant, heart-felt and emotionally honest play about family conflicts and those of us who are left behind. Gratifyingly, Morna Young’s script is not without its lighter moments, such as when the two younger women share their dreams of being either a glamorous Audrey Hepburn-esque widow or something resembling a black widow spider. It may be humour of a somewhat black nature, but it has the ring of truth to it that deepens the three characters and helps give director Allie Butler’s well-selected cast something to bite into.