Serious Topics like Adoption, Abandonment and a Sense of Belonging Make Up The Shutter Sisters

A piece by Mansa Ra, directed by Donya K. Washington.
At The Old Globe's reopened theatre in the round

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

(from left) Terry Burrell as Mykal and Shana Wride as Michael in Shutter Sisters. Photo by Rich Soublet II.

The play is 80 minutes long but it really seemed like 35 because it is good and relatable. The Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre is a gorgeous, intimate space and ideal to house this story. Two baby girls get put up for adoption on different sides of town. One baby is Black, the other is White and they're both named Michael but spell it differently.

The lights go on and both Michael (Shana Wride) and Mykal (Terry Burrell), are middle-aged women who have lived their lives and are recounting the good, the bad, and the ugly. There seems to have been a constant in the last 10+ years and that is, working in the shutter business. They have never met, but a death in one of the families digs out an old thread that reveals a connection.

(from left) Terry Burrell as Mykal and Shana Wride as Michael in Shutter Sisters. Photo by Rich Soublet II.
Both actresses are experienced and it shows, gifting the audience with moving lines. There is practically no dialogue between them as each one recounts individually and at their own time yet making a great synergy. Even though they are not "talking to each other", their combined energy creates room to allow an exchange. I would say that it is a reflection of Donya. K Washington's direction. Wilson Chin's set design is simple but very functional. There is a move taking place so there are cardboard boxes all around the stage that the actresses use as sitting stools. Those little details, like sitting down on a box, mark a pause that gives space for the other actress to talk. A few moments stood out, but there was one where it starts snowing. The prop used for the snow was packing peanuts. Released slowly, each peanut makes a subtle sound as it falls to the floor, when more start to fall, the unison simulates rain or snowdrops. I consider that to be a very touching moment within the piece and a very artistic one.

There are comedic moments as well but this is more of a serious piece with serious topics. Adoption, the sense of abandonment and belonging could be things people rather not talk about or maybeeven see on stage. This is a well-written and delicately told story, with pros and cons, exposing different scenarios that involve having a family, not having one, getting married, and getting divorced. Showing us that life is a series of infinite pros and cons with a dash of "what-ifs".

Shutter Sisters is currently playing until Sunday, November 7. Other creative team members for this production involve costume design by Kara Harmon, lighting design by Zach Murphy, sound design by Chris Lane, casting by Caparelliotis Casting, and production stage management by Marie Jahelka.

Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test is required to enter the theatre as well as having your mask on COVERING NOSE AND MOUTH during the performance.

For more information on dates and showtimes please go to their website 

Shameless plug: listen to me talk about all the theatre I have seen so far during these season openers, in our wonderful podcast From Another Zero. 

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