Having just completed a West End transfer of their Fringe First Award winning hit, The Wardrobe Ensemble return to Edinburgh with a brand-new devised production at The Pleasance Courtyard. The Last of The Pelican Daughters looks at a family coming to terms with the loss of their mother, and how the prospect of an inheritance can divide a family, as well as assets.
The Wardrobe Ensemble have a style of irreverent humour that works well with this kind of drama, while Pelican Daughters has less of a comedy energy to it than Education, Education, Education it uses a more nuanced kind of humour to get its important points across.
The daughters of the late Rosemary Pelican return to the family home for one final time to observe a birthday tradition. They are joined by their wheelchair bound grandmother and their little seen brother. Within the garish pink walls, the family’s deepest secrets are laid bare as they squabble over who will get what. Each of the daughters has a different priority; Storm want’s recompense for the years she wasted, Joy is desperate for a baby, while Maia worries that having a child will ruin her lifestyle, and Sage just wants the cash. Baby brother, Luke barely gets a look in as the sister’s club together while tearing themselves apart.
The Last of The Pelican Daughters is beautifully written and fantastically staged. It has a very Pinteresque feel to it, in the way that some elements of the absurd come together to create a gripping drama of family values. And, just like the recent Pinter at the Pinter season, chapter titles and character information are projected on to the back wall, guiding us through the story and providing frames of reference for the past.
The Wardrobe Ensemble have certainly escalated the scale and depth of their storytelling with The Last of The Pelican Daughters, the narrative is complex and layered enough to be a compelling Sunday night TV drama, but with all the theatrical elements that make it perfect for the stage. Having just completed a London transfer, Pelican Daughters must surely now follow, with a wonderfully written script and a talented cast, this is already West End ready.