Sister is an educative exploration of female sexuality and the incalculable forms which it can take. The audience sit round the stage in a cabaret-style seating plan. Two women in matching lingerie and wigs enter, dancing provocatively. As underwear and wigs are removed, we are confronted with two very different female bodies: Rosana, ‘a lesbian with a shaved head and hairy armpits’ and her big sister, Amy, who, we are told, ‘works in the sex industry’. They are unabashedly naked, and vocal about it. “I have breasts! I have a vagina!” they shout in unison. Their voices blend here, attesting to their shared femininity, but later diverge as the arcs of their individual stories become established, then cross over to explore the different angles of shared experiences.
Amy explains to us that she chose to be naked, but doesn’t get to choose how we respond, whether we listen to her words or look at her body. The initial shock of seeing a naked body quickly wears off while we tune in to her voice, as she begins to explain her and Rosana’s relationship, and how they got together recently to create this piece. While Rosana (a co-founder of //BUZZCUT//) comes across as the driving creative force in the collaboration, Amy takes centre stage more often. Amy doesn’t lack confidence in herself or her words when addressing the audience to talk about her own experience of the sex industry, but her personal stories are delivered a little more nervously; an odd departure in tone given the unshrinking nature of the show. This seems to come from a difficulty in finding the right performative voice for these sections””away from persona but not yet personal””for her more obviously theatrical ‘lecture’ on how to start out in the porn industry (complete with lab-coat, slideshow and live demonstrations from Rosana) is as bold as could be wished.
When the sisters come together to re-enact Amy’s directorial debut””’Wedding Night’, performed at the tender age of nine””everyone shares in the warmth of their sorority, which comes to stand for a feminism which caters and cares for all kinds of sexual choices. Choice is what this production is at pains to emphasise. This is also a show about two individuals: and, as Rosana demonstrates”” straining body on all fours, hands stuffed in Amy’s shoes”” following the same path as her sister would be the wrong choice for her to make. You can support another woman’s idea of empowerment without wanting to be part of it; that’s what being a sister is. And if that can be illustrated by a spectacular reinterpretation of their shared memories of small-town Christmas panto dame’s musical routines, then all the better for us.