12 July 2010

Boston Marriage

MTC gets a pretty bad rap, at least at my school where it as seen as a populist, pedestrian theatre company... Well screw it. As far as a good night out goes, you can't beat a night at the theatre and if it is a well-produced show attended by well-heeled ageing lefties and suits trying to impress their younger starlings with cul-cha - I'll take it with a grain of salt.

Boston Marriage was written by American playwright David Mamet after he was brow beaten for only ever writing about men. The play centres on the relationship between two women in one of those Victorian euphemisms for feminism and lesbian relationships. Actually some women just lived with other women in marraige-like arrangements because men were dolts. Conventional heterosexual marriage insisted upon the woman's submissiveness, not to mention, abandoning career prospects.
The drawing room conversations between the two heroines Anna and Claire are in Victorian high-brow with National Geographic (circa 1892) references to potato famines, geo-politics and exotic Indian mammals - with a dash of cussing and pillow book raunchiness. Vibrators were invented in the Victorian era to treat hysteria in women. Beneath high necklines, sexuality simmered.
In this story, Anna has secured a wealthy male benefactor and hopes to install Claire permanently into her home. Alas, Claire has her eye on a young thing. Slinging amusing insults at one another, Anna finally relents to a cunning seduction plan for the heavily chaperoned girl. It all goes to the shitter when the said young thing spies the necklace Anna is wearing...
 The dialogue is acerbic, the punch lines coming faster than those tennis ball shooting machines - pow-pow- pow. Mamet is showing off here but he's very entertaining. The characters - including Catherine the poor Scottish maid that is often reduced to tears by her cruel mistress - are scheming, sex-starved, consume mountains of sweet meats but are saved by their wit. It could have been a very misogynistic representation of a Boston Marriage but it's forgiven by being so lavish and scathingly funny.

  • Boston Marriage
  • Fairfax - Art Centre Melbourne
  • 4 June - 24 July
  • Running Time: 2 hours including a 20 minute interval

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