Saddleworth Players

The nightmare of three siblings

Hi, my name is Sam and I’m playing the role of Branwell in the Saddleworth Players’ upcoming production of Blake Morrison’s ‘We Are Three Sisters’. My last role here was Pip in ‘Great Expectations’ in December, and before that I was Benjamin in ‘The Graduate’. This time I’m being seduced by another Mrs Robinson!

As we enter the final week of rehearsals before show week, I’ve had the chance to reflect on Branwell as a character and in particular I’ve focussed on his relationship with his three sisters. I myself have three siblings, but in my case I have two brothers and one sister. Poor Branwell had it much harder, it seems!

Branwell is essentially portrayed in this play as a tragic character who throws his life away pursuing a destructive relationship with the married Lydia Robinson. He becomes obsessive and unstable, eventually succumbing to substance abuse in the form of alcohol addiction, in spite of his obvious intellect and potential as both a poet and an artist. In this, he is somewhat in keeping with all of the other men in this play (apart from his father). The Doctor, the Teacher, the Curate and Branwell are all arguably examples of flawed masculinity, a theme which resonates very strongly in the Brontë sisters’ books. Some people have indeed suggested that Branwell was the inspiration for Heathcliff in Emily’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, and there is significant evidence to draw parallels between Branwell’s poetry and Heathcliff’s voice. Morrison’s Branwell can certainly be labelled, like Heathcliff, an ‘anti-hero’.

Come and watch the story of the Three Sisters unfold. If you’re a fan of their novels, you might recognise a few lines!

'We are Three Sisters' will be performed by the Saddleworth Players at the Millgate Arts Centre, Delph, from 2–9 June. Tickets £9 (£5 students) from our online booking office.

Samuel Reid, Jun 4, 2018