Jacq of all Trades, Master of Writing
Cat fights and cabin fever
Social Climbers is a play that has little to do with climbing to gain a higher social status. Four teachers, a school counsellor and a rebellious daughter, with her own agenda, take a hike up a mountain, for a weekend away, to unwind from their stressful lives. Once at the cabin, not only do they unload their packs full of food, alcohol, and a souvenir rock but their hang-ups seem to get unloaded in the process. Torrential rain and a flooded bridge keep them stranded for 3 days. What they get up to, to help pass the time, raises a few eyebrows and will have you laughing, tearing up and applauding enthusiastically.
Director, Helen Maden made good choices in a brilliant cast that brought the stage to life with professional ease. The use of props was imperative to keep these ladies from just idly lounging around and certainly added to the visual pleasure of watching the story unfold. The set was a masterpiece that made you feel that you were a fly on the wall. Thumbs up to the outdoor dunny. The sound effects and music was great. Some of the song choices had the audience singing away, no doubt bringing back fond memories. The atmosphere was completely absorbing.
Maxine, played by Del Halpin was the drama queen who ruthlessly stirred the pot whenever her own insecurities began to surface. Her main targets were Susan, played by Suzanne Grant who she felt had a privileged life as a stay-at-home mother, and Annie, the school counsellor, played by Susan Carey. All cast gave extraordinary performances and were each captivating in their own special way. Kath, (Laney McLean) played her role with confident ease and was able to whip up a party in minutes. Emily, played by Amy McDonald and her daughter, Sinead, played by Camille Chorley gave very convincing performances. Emily escapes life by reading and dreaming of a better life, whilst Sinead gives meaning to her life through her artwork. When Sinead is given the opportunity to realise her artistic dreams it comes at a sacrifice she is expecting her mother to make.
Social Climbers, written by Roger Hall, the first playwright to win a Prime Minister's Literary award, has very clever and witty dialogue. It is refreshing to know that a male has written such an in-depth play about women's insecurities, sexual conquests and vulnerabilities. Each character has a chance to open up about their hidden secrets. Once they let their guard down they realise that nobody is against them, in fact it creates a bond amongst the women that cements their friendship. Of course, it's not just souls that are exposed, there's a little nudity involved and dressing and undressing on stage that had a few eyes popping. When the women get back from a refreshing bath, they return to the cabin to get dressed. A slip of the towel has the audience gasping and wondering what else to expect from this surprising play. There's a cracking thunderstorm, explosions, screaming bloody murder, ghostly stories, a birthday celebration, a séance, a drunken party, confessions, melt downs and revelations that will keep you entertained throughout.
Social Climbers is a refreshing play that is fun to watch. We can all relate to one or more of these characters. Watching live theatre gives you a more personal experience that you just can't get from watching a film. This play in particular gives you the sense of sharing the cabin with the women so that you very much feel a part of their group. It's a personal play that is so well acted that you forget that the characters are actually actors and since you can mingle with them after the show, you may find yourself asking them about their problems and seeking their advice. Book in early, the theatre was booked out on opening night, and don't forget to bring a friend or two. You can enjoy some wine, cheese and biscuits before the play starts as the venue has a snack bar and is licenced to serve alcohol. Enjoy.