Sisters Perdita and Isobel are trapped together in their home for one cold, snowy winter’s night. Instead of turning on the television or playing Monopoly, they resort to squabbling. The audience, privy to their shenanigans and fights, ultimately questions the reality of their mÃ©nage-Ã -deux, and whether both actually exist.
Johanna Nutter plays the cranky Isobel, confined to her chair, while Paula Costain flits about the stage as the chipper Perdita. The moment she steps in to their home, trouble starts. She mixes them drinks. Isobel asks her where she’s been. “You know,” says Perdita.
“No, I don’t. Otherwise, I wouldn’t ask,” Isobel shoots back.
“You do so know.” And so on.
Costain and Nutter, who do look alike, wrestle like the two halves of one personality; Perdita being the outwardly airier sister, it takes Costain a while to get to Nutter’s piercing, bitter level. Isobel’s ever-present state of glowering makes her more fun to watch.
Nutter is no stranger to Wildside, having brought her lauded one-woman show My Pregnant Brother to the Centaur in 2010. She exuded a characteristic warmth and happiness in that biographical play. Here, in yet another tale about sibling relations of sorts, we see Nutter’s frustrated, furious side, and it’s just as effective.
Duplicity Girls, written play by Montreal playwright Ned Cox, was first staged in fall 2009 at the Freestanding Room.
The tension is there, and it’s so thick you could cut it with one of the sharp knives Perdita brings home for the kitchen you never see. But there isn’t quite enough meat in this show to remain interesting and sustain the drama over the whole 55 minutes. Boiled down, it could be a much more satisfactory 30 minute play about the pain of living with oneself.
Duplicity Girls will be playing again Jan. 11, 13 and 16.