It is a true story rich in audience-pulling themes: extremely codependent twin girls Jennifer and June, of Caribbean parents, are ostracised by the rural and very white RAF community in which their technician father is based and stop communicating with the outside world.
They withdraw to their bedroom where they create their own fantastical games and a secret language that only they understand, later leading to the sex, drugs and violent crime that would see them committed to Broadmoor, a high security mental health hospital.
It would have been easy for Linda Brogan and Writer/Director Polly Teale to rely on the wealth of material inherent in this fascinating story, but they chose to contextualise the play amid the racial tensions between the Afro-Caribbean and white communities of 1980’s Britain, with references to the Brixton race riots against the twee celebrations of Princess Diana’s wedding creating a poignant contrast.
The intense, often turbulent bond between the girls was brilliantly conveyed with committed, if at times over-choreographed, performances. We witnessed the frustrations of teachers attempting to draw the girls out of their unhealthy silence, before we were led voyeuristically into their bedroom where the girls acted out the tea parties their mother so desperately wanted to host, only to have her invitations rebuffed by RAF wives.
There were times when I felt the play lingered too long to make a simple point, such as some of their interaction with their ‘just call me by my first name’ therapist, and the mirrored movement between them was, for me, a cliché too far given their already palpable connection; but overall it was a well-balanced, meaty piece that had me looking up The Silent Twins (the title of the biography on which the play was based) when I got home for more background on these fascinating, if baffling, twin girls.
Traverse Theatre, 5-29 Aug (not 9,16,23), times vary