New company Mercury Theatre Ensemble has some work to do on its marketing.
A Friday evening audience of six people suggests it’s not cutting through. But in most other respects, its production of US writer Theresa Rebeck’s four-hander is on target.
A sharehouse of four women in their late twenties and early thirties. It’s Sunday morning, 9.30am. What better time to pour a very large scotch?
Elly, who has recently discovered she is pregnant to her not-ideal boyfriend leads the charge. It’s not long before Gayle and Jen slide into the same groove. Missing is Jessica, who always spends her Sunday mornings at church with her boyfriend.
A drink-and-tell session ensues. The promiscuous Jen reveals she’s finding her style cramped by the attentions of a co-worker, a guy named Richardson, who is fast morphing from pest to problem.
Gayle, a social worker in a local hospital, confesses she slept with her boss in order to get off the bottom rung of a call centre job.
Elly meanwhile, uses her roomies as sounding boards to help stiffen her resolve to have an abortion.
All three agree on one thing: that the prim, domineering, wicker furniture-loving Jessica is a pain in the ass and that they should move out.
What’s stopping them? Having to get a “real job” in order to pay “real rent” seems to be the main obstacle.
We don’t met Jessica in person until just before the lights go down for interval. In her attempts to shut things down and tidy up, her presence proves catalytic, leading to an off-stage assault and Elly brandishing a knife.
Sunday on the Rocks was written in the 1990s. Four women without smart-phones or social media may date it hard for some. So might these characters’ reaction to male violence and subsequent ‘should we call the cops or not?’ dilemma, though, arguably, 30 years ago, there were abundant reasons why a woman might be reluctant to report an incident.
Mostly, though, Rebeck’s mercurially moody, cynical and fast-talking characters seem accurately drawn and director Hamish Pritchard’s cast – Hayley McAlister, Georgia Murray, Caitlin Williams and Rachel Yeong – deliver them convincingly.
Only the dearth of audience on this occasion prevented the play from living up to the “domestic comedy” label affixed to it by its publisher.