My Sister Review - Identical Twins with a Difference

 

Set in Berlin in the 1930's, MY SISTER tells the story of twin sisters - one trying to “make it” in the cabaret scene of the era; and the other, trying to focus on the bright moments in life while confined inside a crippled body but possessing a lively and creative mind. Magda (Emily Hinkler) cares for her twin Matilde (Elizabeth Hinkler) with a tenderness borne of pure love as she hustles between her day job in a hospital and her night job as a nightclub chanteuse. Her disabled sister actually writes many of her songs and routines with a hidden talent which helps both sisters flourish during the harsh German depression. Fantasy and dreams are ample nourishment for the pair. As the Holocaust hovers around them, they manage to hope for a better tomorrow.

 

Elizabeth Hinkler and Emily Hinkler - Photo by Enci Box

 

 

The real-life Hinkler twins shine with talent in this production. Matilde has made the role of a woman afflicted with cerebral palsy her own with eerily convincing bodily and vocal mannerisms. It was almost jolting to see her stand, walk, and move normally as the pair received ovation at the end of the play. At the same time, Magda’s stage presence and vocal talent made the cabaret seem poignantly real. Initially, playwright Janet Schlapkohl wrote MY SISTER with the Hinkler twins in mind; both were students in the University of Iowa Theater Department at the time. The play explored the relationship between identical twins, one with a severe disability, and was set in the chaotic atmosphere of the National Socialist political movement in Germany. MY SISTER was well received and eventually performed at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2015. Some expansions and a few tweaks later, the play was ready for its Odyssey Theatre premiere.

 

 

Elizabeth Hinkler and Emily Hinkler - Photo by Enci Box

 

Talented directors Ron Sossi and Paul David Story manage to bring home the dramatic contrast between the gentleness of the siblings’ loving relationship and the harshness of the environment in Germany, marked by a national depression and the emergence of the National Socialist Party, soon to be known as the Nazis. Set (Pete Hickok), costumes (Audrey Eisner), lighting (Derrick McDaniel) and sound (Christopher Moscatiello) come together to convincingly portray life in 1930's Berlin. And let’s not forget Barbara Rottman (musical director/pianist), Christopher Gene Okilshi (original music), and Janet Schiapkohl (lyrics).  Each adds to the cabaret atmosphere.

 

 

Emily Hinkler and Elizabeth Hinkler - Photo by Enci Box

 

MY SISTER runs through March 6, 2016 at the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025. Tickets range from $25 to $34 with $10 tickets available on specified dates. Performances are at 8 p.m. on intermittent Wednesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. on intermittent Sundays, and 5 p.m. on Sunday, January 17, only. For further scheduling information and reservations, call 310-477-2055 Ext. 2 or go online at www.OdysseyTheatre.com.

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