Ghosting The Party
Melissa Bubnic’s dark new comedy begins with three generations of women folding washing and sharing the best ways to kill yourself.
But it seems Granny Grace, declining at 87, is serious. She wants to die now, much to the horror of her stubbornly optimistic, needy daughter, Dorothy, and Dot’s own daughter, the surly Suzie, just back from overseas for a family funeral.
The hilarity of Bubnic’s timely play comes just days after NSW became the last state to legalise assisted dying and is all the sharper for its deadly theme and shadows. Belinda Giblin is perfect as the relentlessly caustic Grace; as is Jillian O’Dowd as the cloying Dorothy in her floral tops looking for the sunshine. No wonder daughter Suzie, brilliantly played by Amy Hack, isn’t staying long.
It’s a short, ultimately tender play packed with issues around euthanasia, and most pointedly how all three women – in their choices of life and death - are thwarted by the myth that women love their roles as carers and nurturers.
Bubnic unnecessarily fragments her arc of comedy and pain with the actors stepping out to announce an (often obscure) title for each scene. The play doesn’t always maintain its ambitious balance of wild wit, serious deadly debate and real empathy, as we leap too quickly to an upbeat ending.
Director Andrea James smoothy moves her stellar cast across Isabel James’ sterile apartment with its flock wallpaper, cheap lounge and tray-tables, which also serves, a bit awkwardly, for two overseas bar scenes around Suzie’s story. By end, this is an important, hilarious and challenging play served up by a fine cast.
Photographer: Clare Hawley