Friday, August 14, 2015

The Women at the New Theatre Sydney

Clare Boothe Luce's "The Women" opened at the New Theater Sydney last night. It is on until 12 September 2015: frock up and join in.

The costumes were lavish and performances good, but I had difficulty understanding why NT put this pay on. But then perhaps this is a play, by, and for women (the playwright and entire large cast are female). The characters spend two acts talking mostly about women, a little about men, their faults and the human condition. We never see any of the men mentioned, but they are described so well, they seem to be just off stage.

Standout performances were from Jade Potts as "Little Mary" and Sandy Velini in multiple roles.  The entire cast made a reasonable attempt at a New York accent. They also  recovered well from the usual opening night glitches (one ad-lib to cover a slip about where the scene was set was so good it was probably better than whatever the playwright wrote). At times it was descending into farce, with characters rushing in and out of the doors on opposite sides of the stage. Also the music was a little anachronistic: the theme from A Summer Place" (1959)?

The sets were a little austere for 1930s high society New York, but this showed off the lavish dresses to good effect.

By modern standards the play is a little long. But in compensation one of the delights of a New Theatre performance is the capacity to have a generous cast. Several of the actors play multiple parts, but I was surprised there were eighteen people filling the stage at the end. With a modern play you are lucky to have one third this number.

Clare Boothe Luce was a Republican representative for Connecticut in the US House of Representatives, helped create the Atomic Energy Commission and was Ambassador to Italy, before writing "The Women". As such she is not the the typical source of New Theatre material (although the play has one character who claims to be a communist). Perhpas Net Theatre needs to get back to their core business of working class angst, with something like the Canadian play "Lac/Athabasca".

"The Women" is on at the New Theater Sydney until 12 September 2015. This would make a good Hens Night: frock up and join in.

ps: Thats two New Theatre for two complementary opening night tickets. As this was opening night there were drinks and Maltese savoury pastries, from the Pastizzi Cafe opposite the theatre. Other nights I recommend a visit to the Cafe, before or after the play.

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