An acerbic commentary on the pampered lives and power struggles of various wealthy Manhattan socialites, Clare Boothe Luce’s comedy of manners, The Women will play at the New Theatre from 13 August 2015.
Written in 1936, this comedy about marital infidelity and revenge is still funny and relevant today. Mrs Mary Haines seemingly has it all: a happy marriage to wealthy stockbrocker Stephen, two perfect children, a smart Manhattan home and a coterie of entertaining girlfriends with days made up of bridge parties and visits to the beauty salon.
When Stephen’s affair with ‘shop girl’ Chrystal Allen is exposed, Mary’s life falls apart and before long, on the urging of her friends, she’s off to Reno for a quickie divorce. But Mary finds a strength she didn’t know she had and determines to fight and win her man back.
Boothe Luce’s play was remarkable for its all-female cast and ‘insider’s look’ at a world unknown to those outside its privileged walls. Eves-dropping in beauty salons, boutiques and the powder-rooms of fashionable restaurants, she picked up the essence of Park Avenue life and crafted a series of memorable characters, both flawed and funny.
Though the men in their lives are an ever-present driver for the events of the play, they are never seen. It is the ‘ladies who lunch’ who form the nucleus of this world. Marriage as a means of social advancement for women, the role of children in relationships, and controversial topics for the times such as bisexuality, adultery and divorce are all explored with sharp wit and remorseless honesty.
Clare Boothe Luce was an American author and later US Ambassador – A versatile author, her writings extended from drama and screen scenarios to fiction, journalism, and war reportage, and is best known for her play The Women. She was the wife of Henry Luce, publisher of Time, Life, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated.
Most people maybe be familiar with George Cukor’s superb 1939 screen adaptation, featuring some of Hollywood’s greatest stars including Mary Boland, Joan Crawford, Joan Fontaine, Paulette Goddard, Rosalind Russell and Norma Shearer. In 1956, the story was made into a musical film, The Opposite Sex starring June Allyson, Joan Collins, Ann Miller, Agnes Moorehead and Leslie Nielsen.
Now regarded as a camp classic, beneath the wise-cracking, the backstabbing and the melodrama, The Women is an insightful and sympathetic study of human nature at its best and worst. New Theatre gives audiences the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the brilliant play that started it all, a classic 1930s comedy of manners.
Director: Deborah Jones Cast: Heidi Baleisis, Melissa Burgess, Kailey Higgins, Celia Kelly, Jordan Keyes-Liley, Susan M Kennedy, Jess Loudon, Emma Louise, Joy Miller, Nell Nakkan, Lauren Orrell, Alexandra Plim, Jade Potts, Eleanor Ryan, Annie Schofield, Helen Stuart , Vola Vandere, Sandy Velini Set Design: John Cervenka Lighting Design: Heidi Brosnan Sound Design: Stuart Wright Production Manager: Martin Kelly Stage Manager: Petra Vaculik
New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown
Season: 13 August – 12 September 2015 (previews: 11 – 12 August 2015)
For more information, visit: www.newtheatre.org.au for details.
Image: New Theatre’s The Women – photo by Bob Seary