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Storm in a Teacup

This funny, inventive, near-wordless piece, devised by Hot Coals, a new ensemble made up of graduates from RADA’s Theatre-Lab MA, is – very – loosely inspired by Chekhov’s Three Sisters. It envisages a time when an elderly Irina, Masha and Olga, are living together in their crumbling flat, facing both the possibility of eviction from their home and the various small erosions of old age.

This is a very physical piece, and there’s an edge of the grotesque to the way the three performers play the ageing sisters, their bodies made bulbous through padding, their faces distorted with false teeth and false noses. There’s a cartoonish quality to the chosen aesthetic – like Sylvain Chomet’s Les Triplettes de Belleville with added jokes about chamber pots. There isn’t anything particularly Chekhovian about any of this, but alongside the toilet humour, of which there is perhaps a little too much, there’s a real sense of anger at the indignity that comes with loss of independence and the piece is very much on the sisters’ side as they fight their corner. The actors work well together as an ensemble, with Clare-Louise English’s angular Masha particularly well realised, but the tone is too broadly comic to allow much room for tenderness between the three.

Natasha Tripney