How much do children perceive of the world around them? How do children cope with sadness? Hannah Cox and Caitlin West tackle these tricky questions in Tammy & Kite, a play about two sisters whose love for each other appears to be stronger than anything the world can throw at them. The performance opens with Kite, describing how her sister Tammy was her best friend, but that she died when she was 14, and when she was only 9. We then see Kite transform into her younger self, playing with her toys and drawing in her colouring book.
When Tammy appears she is a bundle of energy and it is clear she is idolised by her younger sister. Their closeness makes it all the more heartbreaking when Tammy gets sick. Kite describes how she is the only one who has the power to make her sister happy but eventually even that isn’t enough. To deal with her sadness, Kite losses herself in make-believe, creating stories to entertain Tammy and to loose herself in.
Eventually Tammy is gone and it is heartbreaking to watch as Kite attempts to deal with her grief while equally not truly understanding what is happening. Throughout the play Kite uses creativity to cope with the situation while attempting to remain brave for her sister. We see a complete role reversal throughout the play, moving from Tammy offering to beat up a boy who teased Kite, to Kite pretending to fend off a bear to protect her sister from its “energy sucking powers”.
Caitlin West is brilliant as Kite, seamlessly moving from the present day to the past with a simple change of expression and physicality. It’s never easy for an adult to play the role of a child but she is incredibly convincing as a 9 year old. Equally Hannah Cox is perfectly cast as Tammy, both strong and vulnerable as she attempts to keep a brave face for her sister.
Tammy & Kite is an equally uplifting and heart wrenching production, which beautifully articulates the resilience of childhood and the enduring power of friendship.
Tammy & Kite was on at the Australian Theatre for Young People from the 25 – 28 October. More information can be found on the website.