A sleepy seaside town is the setting for family secrets, feminism, misogynism and Australian culture. Hotel Sorrento is full of drama, politics and family angst. This play by Hannie Rayson is being performed at the Riverside Theatres Parramatta for a short season.
Being invited to the opening night and knowing the story from watching the 1995 film of the same name, I was interested to see how it all worked on stage.
A tense moment for the sisters. Photo credit Cathy Ronalds
The set depicted the small seaside town well. For anyone who knows or has been to Sorrento in Victoria, the pier is a focus and this pier was centre stage. To the left, we see the home of Wal Moynihan (Dennis Coard), who lives with one of his daughters, Hilary (Ruth Caro) and her teenage son Troy (Saxon Gray).
Pippa (Joanne Booth), Wal's youngest daughter, is visiting from the USA, where she works as an advertising executive.
On the right of the stage is a lounge setting, which we quickly find out is the home of expat sister Meg (Kim Denman) and her English husband Edwin (Dion Mills). Meg has written a novel about living in a small seaside town. The novel, Melancholy, has been shortlisted for a prestigious literary award.
Photos credit Cathy Ronalds. Logo and poster courtesy of Riverside Theatre Facebook page.
The play is in two acts with a 20-minute intermission. Act 1 unfolds showing us where the underlying tension between the three sisters comes from.
Also in Act 1, we are introduced to a couple of friends who spend weekends in Sorrento. Marge (Jenny Seedsman) and Dick (Mike Smith), are on the pier. Marge is reading from Meg's book, she is a fan and touched by the book's message. Dick, who is a journalist, doesn't agree with Marge. These two become involved with the Moynihan family in a rather tragic way.
Act 2 reveals even more family drama when Meg and Edwin leave England for a visit to the family home. Hotel Sorrento is now full. This is the first time the sisters have been together in ten years.
There is a lot of family drama to be covered in Act 2 with a lunch hosted by Hilary exploding into arguments and debates about family duty and integrity. Marge and Dick are invited to the lunch as well. They also add to the debates.
If you enjoy Australian stories, this is a good play to go and watch. All the actors do a great job of depicting the volatility of family secrets. Especially Ruth Caro, who plays Hilary, she shows how suppressed emotions can ruin relationships.
Book your tickets now. Click here to purchase them. Be quick, Hotel Sorrento is only on for a limited season.