‘Sordid Lives’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by November 14, 2014

‘Sordid Lives’ is a very black, bawdy ADULT comedy, written in 1996 by American TV scriptwriter, Del Shores. This is the Australian Premiere, and this wild ‘unique’, 130-minute play can be seen at Hackett Hall Theatre, Draper Street, Floreat each evening at 8.00 pm until Saturday 22nd November. There is one high-tea matinee on Sunday 16th.

The show is part of the 2014 PrideFest, and so the Playlovers Group are holding a fundraiser event on Thursday 20th November.

 

On entering, the theatre auditorium there is a warm welcome from melodious country singer, Bitsy Mae Harling (Jane Anderson), a solo player who can actually sing in tune and play chords rather than strumming. Jane also sang from her heart and with feeling.

 There are four very different and impressive sets, designed by David Gardette, that were all changed in total silence whilst Bitsy Mae sang. The first of the well-decorated and fully furnished sets is a scruffy home in Texas, the second a rough bar room, then a psychiatrist’s office and finally a funeral parlour. Damian Long’s stage crew of Bronwyn Hammond, Meg Adrichem-Considine, and Ian Griffin were exceptionally slick and perfectly organised.

 

        The lights dim and actor, Ty Williamson (Andrew Baker) takes a seat in front of the stage apron and pours out his heart. He explains how his has ‘come out’ as a gay, but cannot return to his home in Texas, because gays are still considered perverted individuals and are locked up in prison. Worst of all, how can he tell his mother, Latrelle (Alida Chaney)?

        White trash, Sissy Hickey (Grace Hitchin) is tidying her unkempt home when her neighbour, Noleta (Olivia Hogan) arrives. In her deep Texas drawl, Noleta apologises to Sissy for her husband having killed Peggy, her mother. It becomes clear that the Vietnam Vet, husband G.W. (David Nelson) had been having a one-night stand with Peggy, when she fell over his wooden legs and hit her head, killing herself.

        Ty’s mum, smartly dressed Latrelle, arrives at Sissy’s house along with the third sister, loud, bold and brassy LaVonda (Gillian Binks) to prepare for their mother’s funeral.

        In a nearby pub, G.W. and his friend, Odell (Jason Wall) are chatting to the barman, Bubba (Michael Balmer) when the doors of this male sanctuary fly open and two of the girls enter. They have just been to the cinema to see ‘Thelma and Louse’ and because they are now drunk, fancy themselves as the female gangsters. The three men will never be the same again!!

          The three sisters have a brother, Earl ‘Brother Boy’ (Clayton Zwanenburg) who, because he is besotted by Tammy Wynette, dressing like her and fantasising all day, was placed in a sanatorium for his own safety. We join his sex therapist, Dr Eve (Sue Murray) in her consulting room, as she tries her own method of easing Earl out of his ‘disability’.

 

What an amazing ride director David Gardette takes us on. He has gathered an extremely talented cast, with many major awards between them – and it shows. Their deep-south accent is particularly accurate, although initially a little annoying, the cast could not be faulted in their dialogue.

The characters were rich and demanded daring, energy-packed performances. Several of the cast were taken well outside their comfort zones, but they did this with courage and amazing humour. The language and some sexual descriptions made one or two of the audience gasp, but like it or not, this is REAL life. The performances were ALL outstanding, not a weak link anywhere, fantastic.

The wigs and costumes, designed by Terry McAuley and David Young, are wonderfully conceived. The style and colours made everyone chortle at times. John Woolrych’s lighting was well designed, and smoothly operated by Jacob Anderson. The sound effects required several very accurate cues, and the soundscape designer, Daniel Toomath, did not miss a beat.

This production was complex and had so many areas where a poorly focused team could easily have collapsed, however, this dedicated group were unstoppable. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you do not mind a politically incorrect script and damaging your retinas with one scene, you will love this very unusual comedy. A real, feel-good show.