‘Boston Marriage’ is an extremely funny, adult comedy by the American, Pulitzer-winning playwright, David Mamet. David received two Oscar nominations for his screenplays ‘Wag the Dog’ and ‘The Verdict’. This play is having its WA Premiere at the Roleystone Theatre, Brookton Highway, Roleystone nightly at 8.00 pm until 21st April.
The expression ‘a Boston marriage’ originated in New England in the late 19th century. It was used to describe two women living together, financially independent of a man thanks to an inheritance or vocational earnings. The term was used by Henry James in his novel ‘The Bostonians’, when he called them ‘new women’. Often overtly feminist but not necessarily in a lesbian relationship, women were at last being accepted as independent, strong, intelligent and no longer subservient to their husbands. Some women even used their careers to avoid marriage. Despite ‘Society’s’ hostility, Boston Marriages had sympathetic equality of responsibilities and decision making, especially amongst academics.
It is around 1905 in a smart American home, where two middle-aged lady companions live. Whilst courteous Claire (Lisa Skrypichaiko) is away on a trip, Anna (Cicely Binford) has redecorated a few rooms and is eagerly awaiting Claire’s return. The money for the revamp has come from Anna’s new very wealthy, lover.
Anna, however, is a self-centred, domineering woman without an ounce of concern for anyone, least of all her poor naïve Scottish maid, Catherine (Amy Russotti). Anything that Catherine does is bound to be wrong, and Anna has no qualms about letting her know what she thinks of her type and the weird, backward country that she comes from. Anna constantly, superciliously speaks in multisyllabic sentences and has etymological diarrhoea.
When Claire arrives home, she admits that she has also found a beautiful young love. Although the ladies have been living together for some time, neither has ever suggested that they become partners. There is deep warmth between the two, when Anna isn’t ranting and pacing back and forth like a drama queen.
Eliot McCann’s direction is wonderful, and his superb cast has strong chemistry. The script is very rich and would be extremely difficult to learn, yet the two main characters - that were on stage for almost the whole two hours - were word perfect. They had totally captured the bitter beauty of the relationship, a relationship not unlike that of Martha and George in ‘Virginia Woolf’, but with some gorgeous derogatory descriptions flowing back and forth.
The script was amazing, filled with double-entendres which were exceptionally crude in places, with many vitriolic and acerbic dynamic outbursts. There was an elderly couple sitting near me who enjoyed every moment.
The inventive accompanying music, composed and performed by Eliot McCann, fitted perfectly. Congratulations to Daniel Ramsell, Paul Treasure, Rory Cornelius and Stephen Carr on their fantastic set. Jack Barker’s lighting was simple but effective. The costumes were stunning, thanks to wardrobe mistress Tonia Kapteyn. The crowning glory of makeup artist, Jodie Edom, was the fawning eyelashes of the persecuted maid and the beautiful hair styles.
Incidentally, the first production of ‘Boston Marriage’ was in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1999 and starred Mary McCann as Catherine (These McCanns get everywhere!).
For a very different, but highly entertaining play, perfectly acted make the journey to the hills. There are some very good eating spots only a short distance from the theatre. Very professional, admirable and great fun. An unexpected joy.
Peter describes 'A Country Retreat" as a comedy-drama with a few current social issues thrown in for good measure. Is it possible to “get away from it all”? Maybe…… maybe not. The play is set in a rural area of the South West WA and presents real characters in believable situations. A play for our time.
Bookings open April 8 through Morris News 9440 1040
Season runs from May 10 to May 25
All evening sessions start at 8pm. Matinees start at 2pm.