4 June 2010
The Arts Centre, Fairfax Studio
"We do love shiny thing," says Anna in Boston Marriage. Yes we do, and this show is shiny and glittery enough to want the necklace and a matching pair of earrings.
David Mamet writes plays and films about blokes and masculinity, so 1999's Boston Marriage was a surprise, being about chintz, chunks and chicks. 'Boston Marriage' was a nineteenth-century endearment for spinsters sharing a house, because they couldn't find themselves a hubby, and the play is a drawing room farce with a wit and passion that (like its namesakes) defies the categories it gets carelessly named.
Mamet's Anna (Pamela Rabe) and Claire (Margaret Mills) have shared more than an abode and Anna can't wait to share the news that she has a wealthy paramour whose generosity will allow them to maintain their chintz-decorated lifestyle. Claire is happy, but more intent on bringing her new (very) young love to the house. If only the youngster didn't recognise Anna's shiny necklace, and the maid (Sara Gleeson) could keep her mouth shut.
From her high camp entrance in lush green velvet, Rabe's insecure and jealous Anna is a perfect foil to Mills's thoughtfully sharp (and desperately horny) Claire. With perfect timing and unbalanced emotion, both have everything at stake and manipulate and insult each other in ways reserved for those we truly love and understand.
Having a divine cast and a script that doesn't waste a single contrived and poetic word must be bliss for a director, and Aidan Fennessy (one of the best comedy directors in town) makes Boston Marriage shine more by camping up the wit without detracting from character or the essential drama of the story.
Gloriously funny and perfectly performed, Boston Marriage plays with class, gender and manners that could place it as easily in today's East Mebourne as nineteenth-century Boston and is by far my favourite MTC show this year.
This review appears on AussieTheatre.com.