There are times at the theatre when you don't clap at the end.
Sometimes it's because the play was absolute tripe, sometimes it's
because you don't have free hands from holding the drinks and the
sweets as your girlfriend is giving her favourite performer a
standing ovation, but sometimes there are those rare occasions when
you don't clap because the performance has touched you in such a
way that you forget you're at the theatre and believe you are
listening to friend.
Sometimes I Laugh Like My Sister is a true story one woman-piece
written by and starring Rebecca Peyton. The performance surrounds
the death of her sister Kate (a journalist and senior producer for
the BBC in Johannesburg), who was murdered whilst working in
Somalia in 2005, and how Rebecca and her family coped with the
aftermath of such a tragic loss. It also highlights the dangerous
lengths some journalists have to go to and gives a name to many of
the forgotten faces of international news correspondence.
Audiences should be prepared for a rollercoaster ride whilst
listening to the extremities of human emotion during the grieving
process; laughing one minute and heartbroken the next, I was
astounded how the show keeps you enthralled through the words of
It is Rebecca's honesty, charisma and storytelling ability that
eases you into a comfort zone that some people seem to be wary of;
death is still a taboo in our society, and it was clear that some
audience members did not feel comfortable when Rebecca cracked a
Speaking after the show, Rebecca told me "I have the best seat
in the house. I can see everyone; I can see people wanting to laugh
but not, because they don't feel they should."
Some have suggested that the piece is a cathartic experience for
her. Rebecca disagrees. "It's catharsis for the audience. A woman
came up to me after a show in Switzerland and said it had helped
her grieve for the death of her father. He had died thirty years
ago. I couldn't help but think 'what is it I said that no-one had
been able to say to her before? What is it the piece gave her that
she hadn't had anywhere else?'" No matter what your experience of
death, you cannot help but be touched by this show.
People always stay after the performance to catch a drink and a
chat with the actress. This isn't like waiting after hours to catch
a glimpse of an inaccessible A-lister; Rebecca is a down-to-earth,
friendly woman who is genuinely interested in other peoples'
stories. She tells me it is these tales from others that has
encouraged her and her director, Martin M. Bartelt to start other
projects. "People are amazing," she smiles. I look around the
crowded bar area and see complete strangers talking to each other,
sharing their intimate experiences and listening patiently to
others. She's right. People are amazing.
Rebecca is going on tour to with the piece for the Musho Theatre
Festival, South Africa, and is already receiving press coverage;
yesterday she did an interview with a prolific South African radio
station, who immediately invited her for back for another interview
after hearing her speak. It is this kind of yearning for more that
is a true testament to Rebecca, both as a person and as an actress,
and to the theatre she has produced.
Sometimes I Laugh Like My Sister is an astoundingly real
performance that will leave you an exhausted, emotional wreck but
all the better for it. I implore you to go and see this; it is a
life experience like no other. Trust me, would I lie to you?
Playing at the Tristan Bates theatre, Covent Garden until
Saturday 12 January. You can still catch a ticket at
The show is looking for funding to complete the South African
tour; any donations will be greatly appreciated. To find out more
please visit indiegogo.com
PHOTO: Martin M. Bartelt