by Lynn on March 29, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

Part of the You Can’t Get There From Here initiative of audio plays from Factory Theatre,


By Anusree Roy

Directed by Nina Lee Aquino

Sound design by Debashis Sinha

Cast: Ryan Hollyman

Gabriella Sundar Singh

Mirabella Sundar Singh

Rai, her sister Millie and their widower father have only been in Canada (Toronto) for six months. Their father is going for a job interview that evening. Money is tight and the sisters have to watch every nickel.

The audio drama opens with the sisters going to a laundromat near Islington and Lakeshore  to do the laundry and dream about what they will order at Tim Hortons when their father gets a job. Tim Hortons is the epitome of being a Canadian and the young women want to fit in.

A beggar comes into the laundromat ‘asking’ for money: “Dollar, dollar, gimme a dollar.” The sisters say they don’t have any money and try and tell him to go away. He seems to recognize one of them and accuses her of stealing, becoming angry when she denies it. Both sisters are appalled and run and hide in the bathroom, locking the door after them. The beggar is determined to confront the sister and bangs and bangs on the door. Matters are fraught.

Playwright Anusree Roy has written eloquently about various experiences of south Asians (as immigrants, feeling a sense of displacement etc.) in such plays as: Pyaasa, Letters to My Grandma, Little Pretty and the Exceptional, Brothel #9, and Trident Moon.

Anusree Roy is such a gifted writer that she does not allow us to have any preconceptions about anything. In Sisters she has again created the vivid world of an immigrant family. The sisters are devoted to each other and their father, and there is no hint of judgement between the sisters about what seems to have happened here. The beggar appears belligerent  in his begging: (“Dollar, dollar, gimme a dollar) but doesn’t steel any money from the sisters. And he has a sense of justice when he accuses one of the sisters of stealing, when we learn why he’s made the accusation. While he uses a pejorative term for a woman to describe one of the sisters, he is never racist.  Because of her choices Roy makes the audience delve deeper in its perceptions of the situation.

Ryan Hollyman, as the beggar is forbidding and dangerous. When he is asking for money it’s in a low monotone and there’s something about that word, “gimme” that puts a person on the alert for trouble. Gabriella Sundar Singh and Mirabella Sundar Singh play the two sisters with a fine mix of teasing familiarity and sisterly devotion to protect the other. In a way there is another equally important character in Sisters and that is the sound design of Debashis Sinha. He has created the hustle, bustle and noise of the city from the low ‘blurping’ sound of a police car alerting someone to its approach, to the sound and musical cue of a sliding door opening and closing, to the urgent banging of the beggar at the bathroom door. The sounds of Toronto will be familiar to anyone who lives here.

Director Nina Lee Aquino has directed this short audio drama with such care and economy that the audience is gripped immediately and not allowed to relax until the end, if them. Sisters is a terrific way to begin this initiative of You Can’t Get There From Here.

You can listen to Sisters and the other four radio dramas in the series when they are available on Spotify and various other platforms for free:

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