Posts Tagged ‘twins’

Well well. After over a year of being deprived of live theatre, I was absolutely thrilled to be able to go back to the RSC to see this production of Shakespeare’s shortest and arguably most farcical play. This was set in the newly erected outdoor Garden Theatre, which is just about the sweetest theatre I have been in. It has a capacity of 500, but ticket sales were topped at 310, to allow for social distancing. The weather is always a risk with outdoor performances, but regular groundling visitors to The Globe Theatre are used to coping; in any event we were lucky enough to have glorious sunshine on this particular visit.

In essence, The Comedy of Errors features two sets of identical twins – one pair of whom work for the other pair. As children the pairs get separated and one twin from each set ends up with one twin from the other set. When they meet up again as adults – with none of them knowing of the existence of their twin brother, mayhem ensues as they get mistaken for each other. One man’s wife is convinced he has gone off her, one of them is accused of owing money, and there are all sorts of opportunities for both verbal and physical comedy.

The play was updated to give a 1980s feel and look, with scene changes taking place accompanied by a group of four a capella singers, also dressed in 80s clothes.

Part of the challenge must have been to find actors who were sufficiently alike to make the mistaken identities believable, while being different enough for the audience to tell the actors apart. I thought this was achieved perfectly with the two Antiphulos characters (yes, to confuse things further each man has the same name as his twin) being played by Guy Lewis and Rowan Polonski, and the two Dromio characters being played by Jonathan Broadbent and Greg Haiste.

I loved the show, and found myself laughing all the way through – as did the rest of the audience who all seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. I hope the cast had as good a time as we did. I have missed live theatre so much during the Covid-19 pandemic and this was the perfect way to celebrate being able to see a show again.

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Lily Riser was kidnapped at the age of sixteen and held captive for eight years. This story opens with the day she makes her escape, when her captor makes a mistake which enables her and daughter Sky to run away. However, when Lily is reunited with her family and begins the painful process of trying to move on from her ordeal she realises that escaping was just the beginning…

I thought the premise of this book was really intriguing. Rather than focusing on the kidnap and ‘whodunnit’, instead we are told pretty much straight away who took Lily and the chapters, although told in the third person, then alternate between the points of view of Lily; her twin sister Abby who has been in mourning for her sister for the last eight years; their mother Eve, whose life has fallen to pieces; and Rick, Lily’s teacher who kidnapped her and is almost immediately arrested for the crime.

However, while I was really looking forward to reading this book, I found it disappointing. I finished it and it’s certainly a quick, undemanding read but to use one of my favourite analogies, it was like eating cheap chocolate – you know it’s not much good, but it’s not bad enough to not enjoy it. I spotted a mistaken in the timeline on page 2, which didn’t bode well, and things didn’t particularly improve. None of the characters seemed believable or particularly well drawn to me – indeed all of them behaved in a way which seemed entirely unrealistic, and potential plot points are dangled and then abandoned (such as Lily’s feelings towards high school boyfriend Wes). Rick is little more than a caricature, and it’s hard to believe that such a resourceful and intelligent (albeit completely evil) man would make such an obvious mistake as he did at the beginning of the book or entertain other plans which he did throughout the story. Also the writing seemed over-wrought and melodramatic, almost like watching one of those cheap made for tv suspense films.

As has become the norm for almost any psychological thriller in the last couple of years, this book has been compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. This should have rung alarm bells for me because I thought that both of those books were completely over-rated, but beware – even if you loved those novels, this one is nothing like them.

So overall, I would give five out of five for the idea behind the story, but probably only 1.5 out of 5 for the execution. Disappointing.


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Towner Whitney moved away from Salem, Massachusetts, years ago, after her twin sister Lyndley died.  Now Towner’s great-aunt Eva has gone missing, and Towner goes back to the place where she said she would never return.  The town is shaken by her arrival, and as Towner investigates both the disappearance of her great-aunt, and a young girl who her great-aunt was helping, the secrets of Towner’s own past start to unravel…

I enjoyed this book – on the whole.  I did like the character of Towner, and although I thought I had worked the ending out, as it transpired, I was off the mark.  While it’s always nice to be surprised by an ending of a book, I actually felt that the book fell apart slightly in the last 30 or so pages, and the ending, while satisfactory, was not as good as I had hoped or expected.

Much of the book is narrated by Towner, but at times it switched to a third person narrative – probably in order to tell events from the view of Rafferty, a Policeman who helps Towner, and who himself is searching for the truth behind the mysterious disappearances.  There is also a chunk of about 60 pages which is told by Towner, in the form of a short story she wrote when she was a teenager.  For me, these shifts in perspective did not really help the storyline, and I would have preferred the whole story to have been in either the first or third person, rather than changing between the two.

However, there were plenty of things to like about the book.  I very much enjoyed reading about Salem, and found it especially interesting as I will be visiting Salem later this year.  I loved reading about the traditions, stemming from the witch trials of the 1600s, and I thought that the author did an excellent job of describing the place, so that I could really get a sense of the atmosphere and setting of the story.

There was a definite undercurrent of tension throughout the book, which simmers nicely and adds an edge to the story.  Overall, I would describe this book as an interesting read, and would be interested in seeking out more books by Brunonia Barry.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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Chloe and Sue are twins.  They are blonde, beautiful, and identical.  But although they look the same, they are very different.  Chloe is pleasant, anxious to do well at school, desperate to be liked and eager to look nice.  Sue on the other hand, is abrasive – and downright horrible most of the time – rude and spiteful.  She cares little about school, or about anything at all other than Chloe.  Sue resents Chloe’s need for independence and other friends, and wants Chloe to want Sue, and nobody else.  Not even their brother, not even their parents.  As they grow increasingly apart, while always drawn together, Chloe and Sue both seem set on  path to doom.  This book follows them through their teenage years, through eating disorders, romantic entanglements, unexpected friendships, and lost dreams.

This book started well – the chapters are narrated by Sue and Chloe in turn, and I felt that the characters were well drawn, and distinctive.  Chloe actually seemed rather bland, at the start of the story, whereas Sue, though a far more interesting character, was completely unlikeable, with almost no redeeming features.  It actually felt uncomfortable to read some parts, where for example, she was very spiteful to people, and cruel to the poor family dog.  However, Sue’s behaviour is somewhat understandable when the parents’ characters are introduced – because the twins’ parents are just horrible, selfish people.  I actually felt myself getting angry with these characters while reading the book – they seemed to care little for any of their children  and were only bothered about making themselves happy.  The character in the family who I most warmed to was the twin’s brother Daniel.  He champions Sue, although she rarely sees it, and despite his hostility, obviously genuinely cares for his sisters.

For the most part, the book was compulsively readable, and touched on many adolescent issues, such as obsession with looks, the desire to ‘fit in’ and the need for individuality, while trying to forge a path towards adulthood.

However, towards the end, I found that some of the situations which the twins ended up in were slightly unbelievable, and I started tiring of both girls, and just wanting to sit them down and talk some sense into them.  I appreciated the fact that the book didn’t tie everything up neatly, but did still give some sense of conclusion.

I think I would probably read more by Marcy Dermansky – she certainly has a way of writing which draws you in, and creates interesting, if not always pleasant characters.  If you don’t mind all the teenage angst, this book is well worth a look.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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This is the story of Rose and Ruby Darlen, conjoined craniopagus twins who live in Canada.  Born on the same day as a giant tornado, and abandoned at the hospital by their teenage mother, the girls were adopted and raised by Lovey Darlen, the midwife who helped to deliver the twins, and her husband, Stanislaus (‘Stash’).  The book is narrated mostly by Rose, with occasional chapters by Ruby, and is written as their autobiography, telling about their lives with their adoptive parents, and the difficulties of living as conjoined twins, as well as the love and affection that they feel for each other.  The histories of the characters are also explored.

The beauty of the story is that it makes the reader see the girls as two distinct characters; their conjoinment soon stops being the thing that defines them, and instead their different personalities, likes and dislikes and idiosyncracies become the reasons for how we view them.

Rose is more bookish, and loves reading, writing and baseball, whereas Ruby loves to watch television, and explore local Indian archeology.  She seems to be the slightly more immature of the two girls (although there are moments when she displays real strength of character).  Due to the nature of their condition, Rose seems the more dominant twin, both in terms of personality, and also physically; she has to carry Ruby everywhere, with Ruby’s legs wrapped around her waist.

The girls naturally share a very close emotional bond and deep love for each other, but it is clear that both girls sometimes wish that they were not conjoined, or at the very least, imagine how different life would have been if they had been born separately.

As well as the almost unique difficulties they face due to their physical condition, the girls also face problems that many people would be familiar with (Rose, for instance, tells how she became pregnant and had to give her child up for adoption; something that haunts her permanently).

I found the characters very real and likeable, and especially liked Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash, who are extremely well developed.  Their human flaws and strengths are well depicted, making it easy for the reader to care about these people.

The writing flowed well, and although the story jumped about between the present day and the past, it was not difficult to follow.  The personalities of Rose and Ruby came through well in their respective narratives, so that I never lost track of who was speaking (it was interesting to see how they both remembered the same events differently, even though it would seem that due to sheer logistics, their memories would be expected to be almost identical).

I didn’t find the book perhaps as moving as I thought it might be, but it was an engrossing read nonetheless, and I would certainly consider reading more by this author.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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