Like the traditional Cinderella,Frangipani Perfume is a grown-up fairytale for modern girls, where the sisters clean by night and dream by day - but unlike Cinderella there is no storybook prince to save them.

It is a slice-of-life play that explores the lives of three sisters who couldn't be more different.

There is the dutiful eldest daughter, Tivi, who dreams of a whiter-than-white wedding, and the sophisticated middle sister, Naiki who looks down on her savages-from-the-bush-sisters. The youngest, Pomu, is a science-crazy freak.

Playwright Makerita Urale has a good ear for dialogue and is clever at balancing rapid-fire laughs and humorous situations with more serious issues. In Frangipani Perfume everything from religion and family duty to homosexuality, date rape, cultural pressures and identity get a workout.

It is an approach that makes for a fun night out but will be unsatisfying for people hoping for something meatier.

The script is well-served by strong performances from all three actors.

In the foyer after the show people were discussing which sister they most identified with and which they would not want to be related to.

For my money, the standout sister was Goretti Chadwick's Tivi. Her prayer to God was a masterful balance of piety and self-interest, arrogance and pity. She also showed a great range of emotions.

Close on her heels was Fiona Collins' sassy performance as Naiki, the sister most in love with the New Zealand way of life. She demonstrated excellent comic timing, especially with her catch phrase "I am sooooo adopted".

Joy Vaele - as the youngest, Pomu - has a hard job because Pomu is not as well-drawn as the other characters. Despite this, Vaele's quirky characterisation had plenty of fans in the foyer debate.

The actors have plenty of room to move thanks to the most minimal of sets. Designer Sean Coyle uses only four elements - three dramatic chairs by Tony Rabbit and one large backdrop of blue and white that covers the walls and floor.

Although sparse, the backdrop is witty, suggesting everything from the blue Pacific Ocean to the toilets the sisters clean to earn a living.

Jennifer Lal's lighting creates some memorable moments but at times the stage seemed underlit with the actors faces falling into darkness.

Hori Ahipene's direction shows great flair. With choreographer Teokotai Paitai, he has created a vibrant atmosphere where underlying emotions are bought to life with physical actions.

The Cinderellas in Frangipani Perfume may not get their happy ending but it is a happy ending for the audience, who can enjoy a fun look at the worlds of three sassy Samoan sisters.

* TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre, Manukau Genesis Theatre, until Saturday