Much like the multi-layered Babushka (Russian) dolls, Sophie is a play about the special relationship between twin sisters. Written and performed by Julia Pagett (with direction by Keir Mills), Pagett plays the sister of Sophie, who as a dizygotic twin, isn’t physically identical to her. The taller of the two and allegedly more attractive, Sophie is also prone to drifting into her own world. While this in itself is ‘benign’, Sophie’s perception of herself and her body flies in the face of other people’s, who for the most part label her as an attractive dreamer.
The beginning of Sophie – which features Pagett spending a significant amount of time perusing items that have links to childhood while Puff The Magic Dragon plays – leaves the audience guessing whether dialogue will be necessary in this play, if at all. However, the song’s eventual ‘decay’ draws this wistful, silent contemplation to a close, prompting the monologue.
Much like the relationship between Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby, Pagett’s twin is Sophie’s uncritical confidante and narrator of this tale. Without any sign of envy, Pagett paints a picture of a sociable girl who everyone liked, but seldom truly knew. Naturally popular with her peers, one would be forgiven for thinking that Sophie has nothing to be unhappy about. But how Sophie views her appearance and her life jars with the general perception of her and the wisdom that comes with hindsight brings little comfort, only regret.
The play is advertised as a short piece and if one didn’t know this, may be a little perplexed at its brevity. However, as a succinct chronicle of eating disorders within the family, it’s a poignant reminder at how indiscrimantly it can strike and how even with being a twin – one of the closest of familial relationships – how hard it is to broach the subject.
© Michael Davis 2017
Sophie runs at the Lion and Unicorn Theare, London until 27th August.