Written in the mid 1980s, US writer Edward Allan Baker’s two-hander takes the audience into the kitchen of a blue collar Rhode Island family.
It’s Sunday afternoon. Vinnie and the kids are at his mom’s place. Sandra gets a couple of precious hours to herself, which she plans to spend listening to her favourite tunes, drinking a Coke and reading People magazine.
But Sandra’s me-time doesn’t last long. Enter Dolores, her younger sister, badly bruised, bearing stuff bags full of clothes, and convinced her wall-eyed husband Jerry is cruising the streets looking to kill her.
Same old Dolores shit, thinks Sandra, who tries to hustle her sister out of the door before Vinnie gets home.
But Dolores won’t budge and there’s something in her behaviour that suggests she has hit a new and dangerous low point.
Baker’s play has been likened to soap opera more than once but when it’s played sensitively, as it is here, its portrait of women caught in repeating patterns of abuse is persuasive. That it’s been produced in Sydney twice in three years by women directors suggests there’s more to it than just a couple of juicy parts for actors.
This production, directed by Julia Patey, is set in a real domestic space in Annandale. The audience is a fly-on-the-wall, and very close to the action. You hear every breath, see every tremor.
Having Sandra and Dolores played by sibling actors is a rare treat and Edwina and Millie Samuels are very good in their roles, delivering detailed performances scaled to the confines of the space.
Baker’s message – that there is nothing to be gained from the stoic acceptance of abuse – is made very clear.