The Other Half, White Bear Theatre

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Review by Joe Moss

Francessca Charlemagne is a young playwright who has already staged several of her works – “Paradise”, “Love, Lola” and “The Rose Clippings” – in and around the London fringe. Her latest offering, including material developed during rehearsals, “The Other Half” enjoyed a week’s run at the always interesting White Bear Theatre in Kennington.

 A one-act play intense with emotion, expressed and repressed, the work deals with two sisters who have suffered neglect from a selfish, womanising father and his string of failed marriages. When the action starts Iris (Lauren Leppard) is stricken with depression, wallowing in solitary apathy while her younger sister Amara (Sharon Assaf) looks after her and tries to give her the love and care her parents have withheld. The sisters’ conversation lets us into their dysfunctional family life background and there is even some wry humour bandied about in their efforts to retain their self-respect.

The second half of the play sees the emotional wheel of fortune reversed with Iris seemingly on the up whilst the black dog has now passed to Amara, perhaps exhausted from her efforts at keeping a semblance of family together.

Very well-acted by both actresses, Lauren Leppard, as Iris, impresses in her delivery and expressive and Sharon Assaf is an eminently suitable foil as Amara, the sensible younger sister who then has her own issues come to the fore.

Good dialogue and well-drawn characters keep the audience interested but at times it felt like a work-in-progress and the play would have benefited from more action, letting us see the characters in situations rather than hearing their versions.

An interesting evening and look forward to seeing more from Charlemagne and the two actresses. One again, kudos to the White Bear for letting up-and-coming artists have a platform for their work.

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