Adelaide Fringe 2011
In turns funny and dramatic, this two woman show is an occasionally absurd look at love through various historical periods from a female point of view. Taking us from the restricted regency period, where naive girls were married off for money and connections, to the modern woman, disillusioned with romance, this production is an amusing and heartfelt look into the various lives and loves of women.
The play opens with a women in a white regency gown coming on to the stage and waiting. As soon as the lights go up, she launches into a monologue about her upcoming wedding, with dialogue and characters clearly inspired by Jane Austen works. The young woman is very naively excited about her wedding, plainly trying to convince herself and the audience that she is in love with her husband-to-be, and he with her. It is obvious, however, that he is marrying her for her dowry, and her parents are happy about the match because of his fortune and connections. The second of the six scenes is set in the 1920’s. A young wife is disillusioned with life, and trying to convince everyone around her, and herself, that she is still happy and in the perfect marriage. The third character is a 1940’s wife that is suffering post-natal depression (though it wasn’t, of course, called that at the time). She suffered a miscarriage, and her and her husband have been estranged since. The fourth and possibly funniest character is a nun who has just discovered the joys of ‘fornication’ – and doesn’t repent one bit. The next character is a woman that loves chairs. Actually, romantically and sexually loves chairs. It was a rather bizarre sequence, but it worked. The final character was one breed of modern woman – she doesn’t believe in lasting love and marriage, so takes her pleasure where she can get in order to not be hurt.
The two young actresses were terrific in portraying the various joys and heartaches that went with each of their characters. They effectively handled the many accents and emotions that each woman required. Every character was unique and likeable, especially the more exuberant ones like the nun and the woman in love with chairs. It was very interesting seeing the individual and cultural views on love throughout the last two hundred years or so, told through these women. The progression of the ideas on love were interestingly portrayed, seeing it evolve through the many social and political changes that occurred.
While there were some minor technical difficulties, and the costume budget was not very high, the performances were engrossing to watch. The writing really evoked each era, using the language and phrases that one would associate with each time period. Some of the beginnings were a little ambiguous – the one about the woman with the chair fetish intentionally so – but the story about a woman with post natal depression was confusing. It could have started a little clearer. By the end, though, it did suck the audience in. This play also raised some issues on discrimination, religion, marriage, sexual politics and a number of other related themes.
Although I do thoroughly recommend seeing this show it really fits between star ratings. It is funny and heart-breaking, the writing and acting is really excellent, and the whole show is incredibly entertaining, however it is at times confusing and not as well thought out production wise as it could be. I would recommend getting tickets to this intimate little show as it is well worth seeing.