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Maeve Marsden’s startling, empathetic storytelling exposes the difficult goings on behind the closed doors of even those families who perform perfection to the world. This is Belvoir at its best.
Ruth and Judith have been together for a long time, fighting side by side for marriage equality, better conditions for workers, and gender equity. They’ve overcome discrimination and judgement from all sides to have two bright children and become inner-west homeowners. But when their marriage comes to an end, they find out impossibility of overcoming the challenges of divorce.
Blessed Union confronts a fear that lives in all of us; that others will realise we don’t have it all together. And it does this in a way that pushes important LGBTQIA+ issues to the fore by flipping the stereotypical story of the perfect lesbian marriage, commonly touted around annual Pride, to show Ruth and Judith completely and devastatingly fall apart. Marsden acknowledges that queer relationships can fall apart just like any other, while also affirming and condemning the pressure queer people experience to prove that their marriages are worth the traumatic struggle they went through to get them.
Goodwin creates a familial feel from the first minute that is complemented by the work of set designer Isabel Hudson, who makes sure we know immediately that this is a white upper class marginalised family; their Australian Dream-esque house is plastered with rainbow coloured evidence of what it took to create the family that lives there.
Danielle Cormack and Maude Davey as Ruth and Judith are raw and genuine in both their expressions of love and pain in the nuances of their physical reactions and their emotion-loaded words. Marsden’s dialogue has them overexplain and intellectualise their emotions and mistakes, in a frustratingly performative, self-centred style that their children, Emma Diaz as Delilah and Jasper Lee-Lindsay as Asher, ultimately make them face. Diaz as Delilah is a classic type-A oldest child, while Lee-Lindsay plays the annoying teenager marvellously, always ready with a smartass quip. They play their parts with their hearts on their sleeves, and you feel for them as their whole world falls apart.
Belvoir has a funny way of defining a ‘comedy’ – this one hits home emotionally, particularly if you are a child of divorce (unfortunately likely, given Australia’s approx. 33% divorce rate.) One way they make sure you giggle from time to time, apart from some great one-liners and bum-first physical comedy, is costuming. Bunnings merch, a onesie covered in pink, spangly cats, and garish, mismatched gym gear are some of my personal favourites.
Purchase your ticket to Blessed Union here.
Verdelho | Wine Pairing
Verdelho is the Goldilocks’ dream of dry whites – not too sweet, not too acidic. Expect flavours of tropic fruit like pineapple and paw paw, some stone fruit, and a light body that makes it really nice with spicy food, and heated arguments.
My Pick: Ashbrook Estate 2020 Verdelho, Margaret River, WA
This is a crisp, dry Verdelho with passionfruit, pineapple and other tropical fruit flavours, made more prominent by being produced in an unwooded style. After a few years in the bottle, this wine will age into flavours like honeysuckle and toasted nuts – still delicious, just in a different way. Too on the nose?
Blessed Union, Belvoir St Theatre | Tasting Notes
|Aussie Season||11 Feb to 11 March, Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney NSW|
|Theatre Type & Genre||Play, dramedy|
|See it if you like||Theatre that confronts complex issues|
|Other Info||Produced in association with Sydney World Pride 2023|
|Criteria for Wine Pairing||Light body, ability to age, goes well with spicy foods|