Izzy Kersley is Lila and Caitlin Plummer is Emily in their tale of two sisters growing up with a dark development in the family.
Give a Little, the debut production for Plumtree Theatre, is an ambitious and beautifully realised piece of drama which feels raw and real at every turn.
Set across a ten-year period – the sisters are 18 and 15 respectively at the start – each scene is set on “mum’s birthday” and the tradition the girls have of marking the occasion by giving a gift to each other.
As mum and gran are both off-stage, and dad is completely absent, we only have Lila and Emily’s view on matters from sex to money, education to ambition.
Theirs is a tight bond which sometimes feels extremely frayed, but which never quite breaks apart no matter how many repairs are needed.
When mum receives an early-onset dementia diagnosis, it is the health professional who flounders in denial, with the “underachieving” daughter left to pick up the pieces.
Despite the challenging subject matter and tricky timeline, Plumtree have managed to address this story without being sentimental or overwrought.
Time changes are indicated by music interludes, a quick costume swap (and in Emily’s case a slight update of hairstyle). The set and props are minimal but each has its place to move on the themes.
This is accomplished, tight writing translated into convincing performances. Sibling rivalry can go both ways and it isn’t necessarily who is “right” that matters.
There’s a moment of childish wrestling to grab a letter early on; later, a comforting hug as mum’s forgetfulness becomes decisive and hurtful. These are lovely moments, beautifully done.
You can catch Give a Little for one more performance at the Camden Fringe, at 11.30am on 13 August at the Etcetera Theatre. Tickets: https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/give-a-little/