Double Bill 2015
The Battles of the Sexes

Close on the heels of their sell-out Autumn 2014 success, the World War One play, Death at Dawn, Cloud Nine Theatre Company returned in January 2015 with two more brand new North East plays performed at three separate venues.

The Sisters
(40 mins)

He's Two-Timing, but he Keeps it in the Family...

A dark new contemporary comedy by Peter Mortimer. Two sisters loathe one another. But a consummate seducer sees a challenge in conquering the both, neither aware of his actions with the other. But will there be a come-uppance? A cast of three; Dylan Mortimer, Viktoria Kaye and Arabella Arnott.

The Battling Ettricks
(15 mins)

This marriage is a knockout...

A short highly energetic comedy and the first stage play by the North Tyneside writer Mary Pickin based on a real-life 18th century couple who battled constantly about gender supremacy in an age when women had to fight for every right. The play embraces both verbal and physical jousting, taking the form of a bare-knuckle boxing match! A cast of two; Robbie Lee Hurst and Christina Dawson.

Both plays directed by Neil Armstrong.

"It's the stuff of nightmares for any theatre company: it's the opening night of your double bill, each with its own cast, and one of your actors simply doesn't turn up. You're a small company and can't afford understudies. What do you do?

"When one of the cast of Peter Mortimer's three-hander The Sisters was a no-show, what director Neil Armstrong decided to do was abandon all the movement and perform it as a script-in-hand radio play. Christina Dawson, who was performing in the other play, joined remaining cast members Arabella Arnott and Dylan Mortimer on three chairs facing the audience after just an hour's rehearsal.

"And not one single member of the audience complained or asked for their money back.

"For various reasons, I wasn't able to see the show until the fifth performance by which time the cast were well settled into their performances and it felt that it had always been intended to be played that way. The voice, the facial expressions, the body language—they were all there, all convincing and all enough for us to follow the emotional journeys of the characters. Congratulations to the excellent cast for turning what could have been a disaster into an enjoyable piece of theatre."

The Sisters:
Arabella Arnott and Dylan Mortimer

"The Sisters is a change of direction for Mortimer, a move away from the absurdism of plays like She's on Toast, a move which began last year with The Young Man, the Old Woman and the Roof. One thing which does remain, however, is a playful (and often funny) use of language which prevents the piece from being purely naturalistic.

"It's a play about two sisters—Phoebe (played by Dawson) and Daphne (by Arnott)—who don't get on and who are being seduced by the same man (Mortimer). There's a lot in it about sibling relationships, about self-image and self-worth, and about misogyny but Mortimer makes his points with much humour."

The Battling Ettricks:
Christina Dawson and Robbie Lee Hurst

"The second, shorter play—Mary Pickin's The Battling Ettricks, also directed by Armstrong—is the story of an unhappy 18th century marriage between William (Robbie Lee Hurst) and Catherine Ettrick (Christina Dawson). Or rather, it's the story of Catherine's petition for a legal separation. Or rather, it's the story of Catherine's petition for a legal separation played out as a bare-knuckle fight between the two of them.

"Little more than ten minutes long but managing to pack in a good amount of the historical background of the period, some dance, a load of sound effects and what is, essentially, a sad story, it's an hilarious romp, played with great energy and enormous enjoyment which the audience shared."

Peter Lathan, British Theatre Guide

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