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Hotel Sorrento review at Cock Tavern London

“Why do Aussie plays have to be so obvious?” says a character in this less obvious Australian play revived by a far from obvious fringe theatre.

Currently riding the success of a dynamic La Boheme in the West End, its first home – the Cock Tavern in unfashionable Kilburn – now hosts the UK premiere of Hannie Rayson’s award laden 1990 domestic drama which has become something of a set text for students Down Under.

One of three sisters, Meg (Alix Longman) has just won the Booker Prize in her adopted home of Britain. Having escaped from the small town of Sorrento outside Melbourne ten years ago, she returns to find her siblings Hilary (impressive Maggie Daniels) and Pippa (Shelley Lang) rather lukewarm to her success as we learn Meg’s fiction is thinly veiled autobiography.

Elegantly interweaving such unwieldy themes as an author’s responsibility and national identity into a mixed tapestry of light and shade, the only criticism is that Rayson’s penchant for short scenes means our emotional thread is too often snipped off just as the drama is about to really take flight.

But director Adam Spreadbury-Maher compensates by his subtly stylish direction in which characters from previous scenes are left on stage, thus maintaining a beautiful sense of fluidity and often creating a poignant/comic commentary on the current action, while the acting across the board is nuanced and heartfelt.

Production Information

Cock Tavern, London, August 17-September 11

Author
Hannie Rayson
Director
Adam Spreadbury-Maher
Producer
Good Night Out
Cast
Maggie Daniels, Shelley Lang, Alix Longman, Martin Bendel, Edmund Dehn, Alex Farrow, Ania Marson, Alec Walters
Running time
2hrs 15mins
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