Theatre Review: Sista Girl

Nadia Rossi and Sharni McDermott on stage for Sista Girl ©Kate Pardey
Nadia Rossi and Sharni McDermott. Photo Credit: Kate Pardey

What: Sista Girl

Where: Space Theatre

When: Until 3rd June

How Much: Adult $39, Concession $34, Under 30 $29, Primary/Secondary Student $20

Loud pop music blasts from all corners of the room and the scent of eucalyptus fills the air, as two young girls stand centre stage, performing their morning routines. An immersive and nostalgic opening scene, making us feel like we are right there in the bathroom with them, getting ready for the day.

Sharni McDermott on stage for Sista Girl ©Kate Pardey
Sharni McDermott. Photo Credit: Kate Pardey

Sista Girl, directed by Kyle J Morrison, explores the connection of two long-lost sisters leading very different lives in the same city. The only thing in common between this Aboriginal girl and Italian girl is a white father – as well as the shared feeling of being the ‘other’ in a white patriarchal world.

One sister is a seemingly stereotypical Italian-Australian girl who has grown up without a father figure, and is heavily influenced by her mother’s Italian heritage. Conversely, the other sister has been brought up with her father in a white household, taking on the dual roles of trusted business partner and assistant. Within this relationship she leads an ostensibly ‘perfect’ and privileged life, without much recognition of her Aboriginal roots.

Sharni McDermott and Nadia Rossi on stage for Sista Girl ©Kate Pardey (2)
Sharni McDermot and Nadia Rossi. Photo Credit: Kate Pardey

When their father dies the two sisters meet for the first time, triggering an emotional series of events that uncovers their pasts, and fosters a reconciliation between the two households. Their discussions are charged with issues that the writers clearly feel strongly attached to, inspired by their own experiences of growing up in White Australia and the struggles of their family.

The two sisters’ lack of knowledge about one another’s upbringing and culture are explosively exposed: screaming at each other about their personal trials, dealing with institutionalised racism, the hardships of migrants, and Aboriginal people’s fight for recognition. All of these issues surface between them, and eventually turn from heated arguments into discussions, and then from discussions into a promising sisterly relationship.

Sharni McDermott and Nadia Rossi on stage for Sista Girl ©Kate Pardey (3)
Sharni McDermot and Nadia Rossi. Photo Credit: Kate Pardey

I appreciate the themes and ideas that the writers were exploring on stage, however I did not think the delivery did them justice. It was extremely unfortunate that one of the lead actresses, Natasha Wanganeen, was unavailable, and her replacement was so unsuitable. Furthermore, the traits of the two sisters characters were not realistic: the Italian sister was overly stereotypical, dressing her up in a sparkly Adidas tracksuit and shiny kicks, and her spoken descriptions and perceived notions about different races were veiled with racist undertones. The Aboriginal sister did not fit in with her character’s depiction as a privileged private-school girl who struggled to deal with – and acknowledge – her Aboriginal heritage, as she seemed too passionate and entrenched within the Aboriginal people’s struggle. Ultimately, it seemed that the two sisters were used as ideological mouthpieces, speaking as part of a greater cause, rather than fully-formed, fleshed out characters in their own right.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Rachel Wong

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