The experiences of the women’s family life were displayed in a vivid and believable manner with some superb acting. When there was joy you felt warmed by the smiles, and when there was anguish one almost had to avert ones eyes for fear of intruding. It really was quite powerful.
The dialogue was also top notch; with conversations flowing naturally, in impeccable Indian/Pakistani rhythm and accent. There were even flawless interruptions which are notoriously tricky. It was a pure joy to hear the characters mix together English and Pakistani (Punjabi? I just can’t tell) without second thought. If you have ever spent any time in a bilingual family you will know exactly what that’s like, and you will recognise how spot-on it is here. Finally, I must also say that the vocal pieces, as well as being completely relevant and non-gimmicky, were delivered with a splendidly powerful voice that was simply a joy to hear.
I do feel that, though truthful, An Ode to My Sisters chose to remain quite simplistic. To my mind at least it was very obvious who the ‘bad guy’ was in every encounter. The characters were divided quite clearly into ‘the modern enlightened Muslim’, ‘the conflicted Pakistani housewife’, ‘the goody two-shoes’, ‘the victim’, ‘the toady’ and ‘the witch’. The majority of the emotions too, though rich and believably expressed, were what I call primary colour emotions; very powerful but not necessarily psychologically complex. Similarly the issues of arranged marriages and social isolation, though well portrayed and played out, left me wondering if there was not another side to the story which I wasn’t hearing. Finally, I felt that the characters' situation stagnated somewhat in the second half, and while this did do a good job of conveying a trapped and hopeless feeling, it was a little difficult towards the end of the second hour.
All that said, An Ode to My Sisters was a well acted, truthful and powerful exploration of real issues which, though known, may be quite removed and distant from many people's experiences. The production company is aptly called Images of Elsewhere, for that is exactly what was presented here. An impressive piece.