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Queensland Theatre's season finale,Scenes from a Marriage, currently playing at The Playhouse, QPAc until the 3rd of December, is a riveting tale of the delicate nature of love. Joanna Murray-Smith's adaptation of the Ingmar Bergman classic is passionate, painful and honest. Real-life couple Ben Winspear and Marta Dusseldorp play the quarrelling spouses.
Johnan (Ben Winspear) and Marianne (Marta Dusseldorp) are the quintessential perfect couple. Married with two daughters, they are well off, successful, and life couldn't be shinier.
On the surface they look happy. They have every reason to be, but the truth is they have sweeping issues under the rug down to an art form. Just because you can't see the dirt it doesn't mean it's not there.
The illusion crumbles when Johan admits to not only having an affair with a woman half his age but to have fallen in love with her. The pain his betrayal produces not only destroys their lives as they know it but it transforms them. They become brutally honest with each other and discover that they have spent a decade skating in circles living a pretend life. They are each in their own way starved for love and attention. Love comes and goes and sometimes it just changes.
Marta and Ben are outstanding in their roles. Winspear's complex portrayal of Johnan is uncomfortably accurate, much like Dusseldorp's Marianne. Her reaction to his infidelity felt raw and distressing. The hospital scene was also a standout moment.
If I had to give one negative note it would be that it was all far too real. Watching people tear each other apart is never entertaining but there was so much truth in it. We all know someone who has gone through it or are doing their best to survive it. I believe plays like Scenes from a Marriage are significant. They start conversations and ask questions that might not otherwise arise. They force us, if only for that moment, to reflect and be honest with ourselves and each other or to take heed.
I'd like to congratulate Sam Strong and Queensland Theatre on a truly superb year of Australian Theatre. Thank you for continuously producing and presenting relevant stories with the capacity to inspire, move and change us. I look forward to more of the same high calibre stories, directors, actors, and sets in 2018.
Adapted from the series by Ingmar Bergman. Director Paige Rattray Lighting Designer Ben Hughes Composer/Sound Designer Kelly Ryall Cast includes Marta Dusseldorp, Christen O'Leary, Hugh Parker and Ben Winspear.
WARNING This production contains strong coarse language, herbal cigarettes and a scene depicting domestic violence on stage.