Written by Hannie Rayson
Directed by Ed Bone
Act 1 Theatre
Old Shire Hall, Cnr Gympie Rd and Hall Street
April 21 – May 1.Bookings: 0458 579 269, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.trybooking.com/Event/EventListingURL.aspx?aid=14034
This play, Hotel Sorrento, is set in a small town of that name on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria in the year 1992.
Three sisters, who were brought up in this small town environment come back together after ten years separation. Of the three, Hilary still lives in the same house with her father and sixteen year old son and is joined by sister Pippa returning from New York where she works in advertising and Meg, a writer from London who is joined by her husband.
The play centres on the relationships, both the real and imagined of the three sisters. To complicate matters, Meg’s book, Melancholy, which is nominated for a Booker Prize, has a strong autobiographical flavour to it. When another couple join the family gathering, it becomes more traumatic for the sisters. Director Ed Bone had to move his cast through many different locations which is always a problem on a small stage but he does it quite well. Still, I found it hard to follow at times which was more the fault in the writing than in this production. I do feel that some of the changes needed to be done more quickly.
Sheryl Salmon, as Hilary, was outstanding in a consistently strong cast. Where she exceeded the others was in her ability to display more of the latent emotion of her role in her reactions to her sisters and the family strength with her father and son. Gabrielle Smith as Meg and Nicole Welter as Pippa were both strong in their roles.
However I would have thought that if you had lived in either Britain or America for that length of time, you would not still have very typical Aussie accents. Elizabeth Womack gave a sensitive portrayal of Marge, particularly in Act2 when her confidence, and thus vocal powers , improved. The males of the cast were solid but had some projections troubles at times. Josh Welter, as the son, made a good stage debut and I am sure he will return soon.
The setting suited the 1990’s while the differing views of what makes a typically Australian added to the tensions between the sisters. This was a challenging production for the company as I do not believe it was a particularly well written play – perhaps great to read but hard to perform. The audience liked it so it is well worth a visit to Act 1 to see for yourself.