Sisterly Feelings: West End / National Theatre Reviews

Sisterly Feelings opened at the National Theatre in 1980. This page presents extracts from some of the major reviews of the London premiere of the play.

Daily Mail (Jack Tinker)
"This is family fun unpure and simple. There are some marvellously telling lines and cleverly constructed situations. But frankly, apart from the size of the cast, I can think of no reason why such a potentially commercial vehicle should be housed at the National Theatre when the West End is so starved of this very product."

Daily Telegraph (John Barber)
"The mountain has laboured and brought forth a mouse. It is a well-bred, amusing little mouse though its perkiness flags before the evening is out…. Its presence at the National [Theatre] suggests over-anxiety to satisfy the box office."

Evening News (Felix Barker)
"The early scenes are enriched with all Ayckbourn's humour and humanity. You seldom stop laughing, but I found Abigail's affair more entertaining than Dorcas's."

Evening Standard (Milton Shulman)
"It is not as hilarious as
The Norman Conquests or Bedroom Farce but is still hilarious enough…. [an] Ayckbourn saga of comic despair."

Financial Times (B.A. Young)
"I don't think it matters a bit which [variation] you see. They all proceed from the same
donnée with perfect logic, they all finish the same, they are very funny, but with less of the compassion we had in the last Ayckbourn or two…. This is a rich play, the characters subtly contrasted and drawn in convincing detail."

The Guardian (Michael Billington)
"It sounds tricksy; but what strikes after two viewings is how brilliantly Ayckbourn combines what he used to call 'technical high jinks' with genuine human observation…. If
Sisterly Feelings proves anything it is that Ayckbourn is always at his most serious when he is at his funniest."

The Listener
"The theme, chance versus intention, is one of which Chekhov could have made much, but Ayckbourn only applies it to the sisters and in a very limited way."

New Statesman (Benedict Nightingale)
"The play as a whole, however, is a fiendishly imaginative demonstration of the intricacy of the Chinese box Ayckbourn carries on the top of his shoulders and uses for a head…. The play, for all of its excellences, simply won't bear too much examination."

The Spectator (Peter Jenkins)
"What I saw was enjoyable enough - funny, ingenious, stylish, sharp, indeed everything we have come to expect from Ayckbourn, except for the cruel and desperate undertones which made
Bedroom Farce and that under-valued play Joking Apart into something more than Ayckbourn plays and into comedies nudging at tragedy."

The Stage (Peter Hepple)
"One has a suspicion that
Sisterly Feelings goes on just a little too long for a comedy, with a few dullish patches while we wait for the next funny situation to be set up. But Ayckbourn's skill is undimmed, and his deft characterisation something to be marvelled at."

Sunday Express
"With the West End theatre in so parlous a state, it is annoying to see a play so obviously commercial as Ayckbourn's
Sisterly Feelings cluttering up the stage of the highly subsidised Olivier Theatre, especially as the piece itself hardly represents the playwright at his best."

Sunday Telegraph (Francis King)
"Concerned with more quirks and quiddities than with passions and ideas the play represents a constant battle between relentless triviality on the one hand and some hilarious lines and visual gags on the other."

Sunday Times (John Peter)
"For more than a decade, Ayckbourn has been drawing a great comic map of middle class malevolence, dottiness and insecurity.
Sisterly Feelings confidently extends the view…. This is one of the most consummately organised pieces of comedy you could hope to see…. It is tough, sharp, full of vitriolic observation and cretinous fumbling humanity. This is the real people show and nobody should miss it."

The Times (Irving Wardle)
"Whether or not
Sisterly Feelings ranks as a 'serious work' is besides the point. The point is that it shows him [Ayckbourn] doing the things he does best."

All reviews are copyright of the respective publication.