David Mamet’s famous play, Boston Marriage, promises lust, lies and love. Butterfly Theatre and Burnside Players totally deliver. Geoff Brittan has directed a brilliant performance that is utterly compelling.
Anna (Bronwyn Ruciak) is a fashionable Victorian woman living a life of luxury thanks to the patronage of her wealthy ‘Protector’. She cannot, however, deny her passion for long-time friend, Claire (Cheryl Douglas), and so when she arrives at Anna’s home with a favour to ask things start to get complicated.
Boston Marriage is a witty, classy and stylish exploration of lust and manipulation among the higher classes of the Victorian era. It is a play seething with the tension of clashing emotions and social taboos. Mamet’s writing is of an incredibly high quality, with some ingenious sections of dialogue, clever jokes and hilarious plot twists. The three actresses do the script justice, performing each line with precision and energy that doesn’t dim at all for the entire play.
While the accent may have been a tad off the mark, Bronwyn Ruciak’s performance of the snobby mistress Anna is fantastic. The Victorian style of enunciation is overplayed to an extent, a necessary part of the play, but is quite amusing. Cheryl Douglas’ Claire is also superb, a perfect match and counterbalance to Anna. Catherine the Maid (Genevieve Williamson) tops it all off. She is a very funny character and catalyst for some of the funniest scenes in the play. Genevieve Williamson’s performance is marvellous, making us really sympathise with the bullied servant.
Each performer conveys emotion brilliantly, and manages to project over the airoplanes that roar above the venue frequently. The performers were impervious to distraction, completely focused on their art. Their dedication certainly showed. Their frantic yet controlled dialogue makes every bit of the play enjoyable, though by the third act I began to feel the performance was running a little long.
The costume and set design add a lot of character to the play. The costumes seemed suitably Victorian, offering a glimpse back in time. The simple, floral walls that border the stage also contribute to sucking us into this world of yesteryear. While the show is obviously not running on a big budget, I was quite impressed by the little touches, such as the writing table and the ever-ready decanter of Sherry, which bring the stage to life.
Boston Marriage is an intriguing and droll show that offers deep and complex characters, surprising twists and incredibly well written dialogue. If you’re a fan of the Victorian, and like a little dark quirkiness, this is definitely a show for you.
Reviewed by James Rudd
Venue: The Wheatsheaf Hotel, 39 George St, Thebarton
Season: 13 – 20 November 2013
Duration: 2 hours, with intermission
Tickets: $15.00 – $20.00
Bookings: Book via FeastTix
Photo Credit: Les Zetlein