Saddleworth Players

‘We are Three Sisters’ – review

We Are Three Sisters by the Yorkshire poet and novelist, Blake Morrison, is an unusual take on the Bronte story. We are invited into the Haworth parsonage which is full of guests, a doctor, a teacher, a curate, and Branwell’s married lover, Lydia Robinson, as well as the Bronte family and Tabby, their faithful servant. The stage is permanently packed – this is not the isolated parsonage of popular imagination, but a family home full of interactions, discussions, quarrels and dreams.

Look a little closer, though, and we can see that each of the characters is suffering from unrequited love or longing, fantasies and fears about the outside world, - except possibly for the heartless Lydia, skilfully played by Verity Mann. The set reflects this – an intimate Victorian living room, giving way at the back to gravestones and the ghostly image of the moor beyond. In the room itself, books are the most dominant feature, and the portrait of the three sisters done by their brother. In this play, the lasting impact of art and literature is contrasted with the ephemeral quality of love, or passion – at the end Charlotte affirms it is their books that will survive. There are some outstanding performances that keep the momentum going in this rather discursive play. The scenes between Patrick Bronte and Charlotte achieve an intimacy and warmth that does not come from the script, and Branwell’s destructive passion for Lydia is convincingly realised. Anne is vividly expressive, and the interactions between the three sisters conveys the intense, sometimes suffocating nature of their love.

It was especially refreshing to hear the words of the novels themselves read between the scenes . Fans of the Brontes will undoubtedly enjoy this atmospheric portrayal of their lives.

'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 booking site.

Livi Michael, Jun 4, 2018