Today’s theatrical treat comes via the BBC, Katherine Parkinson’s delicately lovely play Sitting, which was filmed as part of their Lights Up season
“Actually it would have been weirder if we were both naked”
Filmed as part of the BBC’s Lights Up, Katherine Parkinson’s play Sitting was first seen in Edinburgh in 2018 as part of a first-time-playwright’s scheme which offered a leg up to such unsung names as Frank Skinner and indeed Parkinson, well known for her roles in TV shows such as The IT Crowd and Humans. Sitting did reappear in reworked form at the Arcola in London the next year and a clear labour of love for Parkinson, was adapted for screen here by Jeremy Herrin, finally starring the playwright herself.
It is an unassuming thing to start off with, three monologues from three unconnected figures, all sitting for the same portrait artist whom we don’t see. And as Mary, Luke and Cassandra try to hold their poses whilst munching on biscuits, they each unburden their souls in different ways, all finding the need to fill the silence for their own reasons. Their stories are separate but intertwined, words and phrases echoing from one person to the other, Herrin skilfully sliding us between them all as we gradually build up our own pictures of them.
This being a play means that of course, there’s more to it than just an hour of incidental conversation and the way in Parkinson reveals just that is skilfully done as a sting in the tail that offers up a note of deep emotional resonance. Parkinson’s Mary can’t stop talking about her family history, Alex Jarrett’s Cassandra’s bolshiness can’t quite hide the fragility behind her forthrightness and best of all, Mark Weinman’s Luke quietly reels from the hand life dealt him, a blokeish warmth trying to cover the wounds that won’t quite seem to heal. A lovely way to spend an hour.